Food for thought – Sustainable Foods Summit 2013

How Aristoteles can help you building trust with your consumers and e-vangelists will help you transporting a product message that you even didn’t tell them.

Sustainable Foods Summit 2013 Panel Session

Source: Organic Monitor

From 6th to 7th of June, the Sustainable Foods Summit brought together key players from different parts of the sustainability industry. With approximately 150 delegates from over 100 food manufacturers, NGOs, ingredients providers and associations and a conference programme packed with interesting case studies, the summit provided a lot of insights and food for thought.



While the first conference day mainly dealt with general sustainability issues within the food industry, backed by a lot of case studies. The second day focused on the marketing of sustainable food and responsible consumer behaviour.

The key findings with regards to marketing and consumer behaviour are:

  • A broad consumer group (66%) is considered to represent the green mainstream. These consumers are “ready” for a more sustainable consumption. They just need to be put into the situation to be able to do so and it should not “hurt”; financially and from a product quality point of view.
  • To get this green mainstream supporting your brands or products, you will have to talk to the so called “e-vangelists” first as Linda W. Eatherton from Ketchum explained. E-vangelists are consumers from all different age groups that are very active in social media, creating new trends. They are the ones picking up topics first, sharing their views on them and gathering “followers”. But make sure you don’t give them a marketing message, but rather tell them a story. E-vangelists want to find out themselves what you have to say. They will then create their own message. More info about Ketchum.
  • Trust is another important factor in marketing sustainable food products as explained during the summit in an awesome speech by Simran Sethi. New brands and products often face the challenge, that consumers don’t trust them in the first place. They need to build trust. Trust, according to a definition from Edelman is defined as “future behaviour based on past performance”, or to give Aristotle a say on this: “the trust of a speaker by the listener, is based on listener’s perception of three characteristics: competence, character, reliabilty/good will”. In the case of new sustainable or fair trade food products, this translates to: the perceived competence of the manufacturer, the image of the character the consumer has of the brand and the feeling how reliable the manufacturer is. All three factors are mainly driven by the past experience consumers have with a brand.
  • Once your new sustainable / fair trade product is out there, it is about getting the consumers to do the right choice, as explained by Schuttelaar & Partners. Giving them a little ‘nugde’ at the point-of-sale for example is a proven method. E.g. using POS material at the shelf to give a little more information about the product. Whatever you do, make sure you tell the real story. The time of marketing ‚blabla‘ is over. Use sustainability or fair trade as an opportunity to increase consumer’s trust in food. Make sure, that your sustainability or fair trade themes you tell match the consumer’s preferences. This also links in to the “5 principles of successfully marketing sustainable foods”: is has to be relevant. Make clear, what kind of role your company plays within the production process and let people know about it.
Sustainable Foods Summit 2013 (2)

Sustainable Foods Summit 2013

Conclusion: the Sustainable Foods Summit  provided a wide spectrum of topics from the field of sustainable food. Thanks to the diverse backgrounds of the speakers and the audience, discussions have been fruitful and inspiring. Sustainable food production and sustainable and fair sourcing are more and more becoming main themes for companies of all sizes. Not only as a part of their value chain or communication but as the core element of their business model.

More information about the SFS2013

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