We’ve all heard it before: farmers need to tell their story. But why are the stories behind food so important?
In a panel discussion at the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) annual meeting held last month, Shelley Balanko, senior vice president of The Hartman Group, explained what today’s consumers are looking for in food and beverage.
She said that in the past, there wasn’t a lot of engagement when it came to food culture. People’s desires were fairly simple; they were looking for reliable, consistent, and safe foods.
Now, our values are in flux, and consumers exist on a continuum of very involved with food to not so much. The key, though, is choice. “All consumers’ needs have essentially been met, so now it’s about meeting their desires,” Balanko said.
According to Balanko, consumers are looking for foods and beverages with lots of distinction. They are also looking for foods and beverages that improve health and wellness. For Americans today, there are emotional, social, mental, and physical components to health and wellness.
“People are thinking more holistically about health and wellness, and they are thinking more holistically about food,” she said.
“Consumers want to know where it’s made, how it’s made, where the ingredients come from, and what ingredients are in the product,” she said. The answers to these questions help determine what food and beverages they want to purchase and consume.
“The stories are what give things meaning,” Balanko stated. “There is a lot of data and insight and opinion available, but the stories allow consumers to really understand. This is absolutely necessary to share with consumers.”
Balanko added, “Today’s consumer is orienting around a trend of mindfulness, being more thoughtful and intentional in all things in life. When being mindful, the origins of food are very important.”