Forget sustenance – global consumers want nourishment, and not just from the food they eat.
That was the message from Dan Robertson-Jones, a director of consumer insights company Kantar Consulting, who said the market disruption unleashed by the covid pandemic has changed the way consumers approach their food, lives and values.
Add to that Russia’s war on Ukraine, artificial intelligence and climate change, and he said global consumer trends have been altered forever and will continue to change.
“It’s been one thing on top of another, on top of another, on top of another and it’s not going to stop.”
Robertson-Jones told about 700 farmers attending a Silver Fern Farms (SFF) conference in Christchurch that after World War II the world wanted food that provided sustenance. This was provided by the growth of supermarkets.
Now covid has caused people to reflect on their lives, the food they want, the lives they lead and the values they hold.
Research shows consumers want more control and to reconnect with nature, and that means nourishment through the food they eat.
They see nourishment not only from eating authentic food but from mixing with people, caring for and connecting to the planet and having more control of their lives.
His research shows 90% of people are concerned at the loss of natural habitat and green spaces and 97% want to live more sustainable lives.
Robertson-Jones said food producers that can meet those expectations have a “rare and desired” marketing opportunity.
Consumers will not be bluffed. If they do not believe products are fulfilling their stated aims, they will cut those products loose.
Large-scale industrial food producers and plant-based meat alternatives will struggle to get cut through as they will not meet these expectations.
“[You] have what the world wants, a nourishment business,” he said of SFF.
New Zealand farmers follow sustainable practices to produce high quality meat, adhere to high levels of animal husbandry and have strong links to people and communities, he said.
“We have undertold and undersold the story of NZ to the world.”
Nicola Johnston, SFF’s manager of growth, said the introduction of Net Carbon Zero beef, soon to be joined by Net Carbon Zero lamb, and its soon-to-be-launched Nature Positive programme, are part of telling that food story.
Nature Positive will show how farmers work in balance with the environment, the soil, water and biodiversity.
“Nature Positive is about the balance sheet of a farm’s natural capital.”
She said it will appeal to consumers’ emotional mood and their desire to connect to a healthy environment, for which they will pay a premium.
The conference, titled The Farmers the World Needs, acknowledged stock prices have fallen and could stay lower than previous years for some time yet.
The call, repeated by successive speakers, was for SFF suppliers to stay on task. To avoid future fluctuating prices, producers and exporters need to supply meat that meets the requirements of affluent consumers.