“We saw a fairly narrow divide between the values-based socially conscious shoppers and the general consumers when it comes to attitudes about social responsibility” “All shoppers want more responsibility from brands, and this trend is something that can no longer be ignored.”LeAnne Ruzzamenti, director of marketing and communications at EFI.
Equitable Food Initiative, the multistakeholder workforce development and certification organization that partners with farmworkers, growers, retailers and consumer groups, conducted the “Consumer Attitudes Toward Fresh Produce and “Socially Responsible Purchasing” study and created an actionable guide for attracting socially conscious consumers.
EFI’s study investigated beyond demographics to understand purchasing behaviors and social issue ranking and identified a distinct group of socially conscious consumers. The study confirmed existing research trends and provided new insights about consumers’ level of awareness of social issues and their purchasing behaviors specific to fresh produce.
When shopping for fruits and vegetables, socially conscious consumers consider social responsibility to be just as important as value and sale price.
Surprisingly, these consumers believe that the transparency and social action of the brands they buy matter as much as getting good value. While 80% of the socially conscious respondents indicated the importance of buying fruits and vegetables from a socially responsible company, 67% of the general consumer respondents concurred.
“We saw a fairly narrow divide between the values-based socially conscious shoppers and the general consumers when it comes to attitudes about social responsibility,” remarked LeAnne Ruzzamenti, director of marketing and communications at EFI. “All shoppers want more responsibility from brands, and this trend is something that can no longer be ignored.”
When asked specifically about the areas that fresh produce companies should address for social responsibility, survey respondents rated fair working conditions, safe use of pesticides and transparency from the farming operation in that order.
Consumers are also clear that they want more information on packaging for their fresh fruits and vegetables. Nearly 80% asked for sustainability commitments on the package; 73% ranked the history, ethics and values of the company as important to include; and 73% said it’s important to showcase third-party certifications.
Augmenting the study, EFI offers a guide to implementing the key takeaways: “Five Tips for Building Brand Transparency to Attract Socially Conscious Consumers.” The guide can be downloaded at equitablefood.org/consumertips.
“We wanted not only to learn more about socially conscious consumers but also to help farming operations create authentic connections with them,” Ruzzamenti said. “The guide provides some easy ways to address consumers’ concerns through the work most grower-shippers are already undertaking, such as building an online presence.”
For more detailed information on the study, an on-demand webinar called “Social Responsibility: What Really Matters to Consumers” breaks down these emerging trends and is also available at equitablefood.org/consumertips.
EFI works with 32 grower-shipper companies on 78 farms, with 52 certifications completed and 26 more in progress. Through the EFI program, 4,000 farmworkers and managers have been trained in problem-solving and communications practices that are improving labor, food safety and pest management standards for more than 58,000 workers.
Fresh produce industry members interested in learning more about EFI, workforce development tools, training modules and educational resources can access information online at equitablefood.org/resources.
Equitable Food Initiative is a nonprofit certification and skill-building organization that seeks to increase transparency in the food supply chain and improve the lives of farmworkers through a team-based approach to training and continuous improvement practices. EFI brings together growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumers to solve the most pressing issues facing the fresh produce industry. Its unparalleled approach sets standards for labor practices, food safety and pest management while engaging workers at all levels on the farm to produce Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured fruits and vegetables. For more information about Equitable Food Initiative, visit equitablefood.org.
View a list of EFI-certified farms at equitablefood.org/farms.