Farmscape for December 18, 2023
|Full Interview 10:32
The Chair in Food Systems Leadership with the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph suggests, when farmers discuss the production of food with their non-farming counterparts, they are typically starting off in a much stronger position that they realize. “What Consumers Know, What They Don’t Know and Why it Matters” was among the topics discussed last month in Saskatoon as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2023. Dr. Michael von Massow, a professor in the Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph and the Ontario Agricultural College Chair in Food Systems Leadership, suggests consumers tend trust farmers and feel good about the agriculture industry but they have no idea what the industry does and that leads to tension and potential for surprises.
Quote-Dr. Michael von Massow-University of Guelph:
I think we need to recognize that we’re the leaders, that we set the standard and behave in a way. We may need to adapt going forward if there are some things that consumers aren’t comfortable with. But I think we need to start from a position of confidence to say, “yes, there are other competitors coming in but they’re comparing themselves to us.” We can highlight the differences but I think we should also spend some time accentuating the positives and the reasons that people have historically eaten animal products.
Even people who declare as vegans and vegetarians are often cheating with meat so what we need to recognize in that circumstance is that most people like the taste of meat and we need to reiterate why they’re eating it.
We need to reiterate the benefits, we need to reiterate the nutrition, we need to reiterate the tradition, barbecues, Sunday dinners, ham dinners, those sorts of things that are not only flavor experiences but are cultural experiences. And remember we’re starting from a position of strength and so not just differentiating ourselves from those things but reiterating the good things that we do.
Dr. von Massow stresses the conversation about food is happening whether agriculture is at the table or not.
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