Put farm assurance and organic production to one side. Worthy and desirable though these are, they’re industry protection mechanisms rather than saviours of the world.
But sustainability is, and it may become the planet’s most powerful economic and political driver over the next 20 years. On the grocery scene, efforts to conserve our ecosystems will transcend established marketing boundaries. Thanks to Mother Nature’s recent apocalyptic warnings, consumers may demand sustainably produced food before retailers can market it. Multiples who act soon may temporarily win the day, and in the end those who don’t could die.
Meat and fish are good barometers of retailers’ commitment to sustainability. Meat sourced from British farms makes environmental sense, as does fish from MSC fisheries. Any marketing messages to promote such initiatives would be commensense and simple.
Yet one factor could still cloud the logic in public minds. Quite simply, farms and fisheries. Most consumers accept that even the most eco-friendly meat is reared or farmed. Yet we assume the finest fish must come from the sea. In many minds, farmed fish are stigmatised.
Yes, some species of fish are hard to farm. Some are probably impossible, others don’t make practical sense and I’m sure some fish farming isn’t very green. But that is a rich area on which brands and retailers could capitalise.
By deciding whether to fish or farm on grounds of sustainability, working directly alongside the MSC wherever fishing wins the day, and creating marketing propositions based on why decisions are made, retailers could tangibly prove that they cared. In other words: fished or farmed? And why?
By explaining this, retailers could claim an upper ground. And by exposing consumers to an unadulterated decision-making process rather than sugared dictat, they could become credible champions of sustainablity instead of towing the line through necessity.
Would you like to write a Talking Point? We’re looking for contributions covering hot topics in the meat, fish and fresh produce supply chains
Email richard.clarke@william-reed.co.uk or call him on 01293 610404