Those of us who work in agriculture know the essential role that farmworkers play in bringing fresh, healthy food to supermarkets.
But many Americans only just recognized the critical role they play when supply chains were shaken during the pandemic.
According to Hartman Group, a consumer research organization that focuses on food, not only did consumers develop a greater appreciation of food supply chains during the pandemic, but there is also more appreciation for worker rights and employee safety as well as a desire for companies to help provide food security, community support and social and racial justice.
While these trends were in play prior to the pandemic, they have strengthened, and consumers want to know which companies are following through on their social responsibility efforts.
The fresh produce industry has already been working to address sustainability, but now that the definition is widening to include overall corporate social responsibility and a focus on people, how should the industry respond?
In many ways, the fresh produce industry is primed to address these trends and help their retail buying customers connect with consumers. The industry relies on an estimated 425,000 workers to harvest and process most products by hand.
There is a very direct line between the hands that harvest and pack fresh fruits and vegetables and the consumer that eats them.
And with the adoption of the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices nearly three years ago, the industry has made a commitment to raise the bar on social responsibility in the same way it has committed to food safety.
We can embrace the trends and our industry’s position to widely share more about the people who work in produce and how we are creating safer, healthier and more respectful workplaces for them.
March 25-31 is National Farmworker Awareness Week, which offers a great opportunity to start creating awareness for the many people behind the scenes in agriculture.
Even if you mark the occasion with a simple communication to your key audiences – whether that is retail customers or end-consumers – it is a great way to jump start on a strategy that will be expected in time.
Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) has provided a communications toolkit for Farmworker Awareness Week with graphics, key messages and distribution ideas.
Customize your message by sharing something about how your company trains workers on safety, offers professional growth opportunities or put safety protocols in place during the pandemic.
Shine a light on your brand and let your retail customers and end-consumers know how you value and care for your workforce. Beyond Farmworker Awareness Week, consider how these trends will play into your long-term operations and sales and marketing strategies.
Be ready to assist your retail buying customers with ways to connect consumers to the people behind their food and the ways you are improving your community.