Center for Food Integrity Aims to Build Consumer Trust and ConfidenceFri, 13 Mar 2015 14:40:38 CDT
Charlie Arnot has been involved with the meat industry much of his life. He is the currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Food Integrity. It's a non-profit organization devoted to putting the food industry's best foot forward in the eyes of the consumer. The Center represents multiple stakeholders from a wide and diverse range of agricultural interests. Arnot said that is some of the strength of his particular organization.
"One of the strengthens of the Center is, we have no natural constituents," Arnot said. "We don't defend or protect or speak on behalf of any particular sector or brand. That enables us to bring a very diverse group of stakeholders together. So our members include Aurora Organic Dairy, DuPont and Monsanto, Cargill and ConAgra, as well as Nestle and Kroger and McDonald's and everybody kind of in between. State farm organizations, national farm organizations, individual farm groups are all part of that conversation are all part of the Center for Food Integrity, so one of the advantages of that is that we have higher level of credibility in some circles, because of the diversity of our membership."
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays featured Arnot on the Beef Buzz feature. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to today's Beef Buzz.
Credibility can lead to trust, according to Arnot. That's really important when you are dealing with consumers about food. He said agriculture has always relied on science as the primary mechanism upon which decisions are made. In working with Iowa State University in trying to uncover what it takes to build trust, Arnot said they began with a meta-analysis of 21 different pieces of research on the question of trust and food.
"In each of those pieces of research, we identified three common drivers," Arnot said. "The first is influential others, that's family and friends and credentialed individuals whose opinion you respect. The second element is competency, believing its competency or technical data that builds trust. The third element is confidence or the perception of shared values and ethics, can I count on you do what's right?"
Arnot said it's also important to realize the changing nature in how people communicate, is important in reaching the target audience. In this case, talking with consumers about food and how it's produced.
"It's helping people make a connection with the men and women that are involved in agriculture and farming," Arnot said. "What's interesting today is we have gone from mass communication to masses of communicators with social media, where everybody has a voice, everyone has an opportunity to participate in the conversation. It's really important that we understand the importance of being engaged in the conversation. It's more about listening, it's about embracing skepticism and then participating in a dialogue in a way, so people understand that you appreciate their concerns, you're willing to listen and then you have information that's relevant to them. So testimonials and sharing your story certainly a part of that, but what we are discovering really being able to listen, being able to embrace skepticism and not become defensive, then engage in a dialogue is a much more effective long term strategy."
Keeping a dialogue open with consumers essential for cattle producers today, in this era of skepticism. To learn more about the Center for Food Integrity, click here.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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