SCOTTSDALE, AZ – Consumers can’t agree on what sustainability means, but they want to hear more about how your company tries to improve it.
Daniel Sonke, director of sustainable agriculture for Campbell Soup Co., told attendees at the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s annual conference April 24, said produce companies need to have stories about their sustainable practices.
He said, for instance, Campbell’s works with 80 family farms in California to produce the tomatoes for the company’s products, and he’s proud to tell consumers about the company’s efforts to use 20 percent less water per ton of tomatoes than it did seven years ago.
Sonke said companies should avoid getting pulled into a technology versus natural production method debate.
“Each side can learn from the other,” he said.
He said one message many produce companies can spread is their work on keeping the soil they grow their products in healthier.
“Better soil management can lead to higher accumulation of minerals – in theory,” Sonke said.
That can present an argument that organic produce may have significantly higher antioxidant activity, but studies have consistently shown that organic and conventional fruits and vegetables have comparable vitamins and minerals.
Trish Zecca, senior program manager, global nutrition and regulatory affairs for Campbell’s, and chairwoman of PBH, said it’s important for the company to have both conventional and organic products to feed the needs of all consumers.
“You can’t educate out emotion,” she said. “Consumers want a choice, so we do that at Campbell’s.”
For an example of Campbell’s consumer outreach, check out this podcast promotion about tomato growers Becky and Melissa Yeung.