Is your farm part of the no-BS food story?

1 Farmer in 1 Field with no B.S. = Sustainable, Millennial-friendly Food

'3 Egg Whites, 14 peanuts, 2 Dates and No B.S.’ Would you eat a chocolate bar proclaiming that sentiment in big letters on its label? Sounds good to me.

People, especially the millennial generation, are looking for stories behind their food, and manufactures are using products with labels like the one above to shoot for the millennials’ attention, hoping to target their considerable economic girth.

Bob Parker, during his talk at the 2017 Southern Peanut Growers Conference July 21, showed an image of this chocolate bar’s moniker as an example of a food product telling a story, in this case a tongue-in-cheek quip on the naturally sourced ingredients used to make the bar, heralding the bar’s wholesome, no-nonsense purity.

Pointing to research and surveys conducted by the National Peanut Board and other industry organizations, Parker, president and CEO of the NPP, said the millennials coming into their financial own prefer food that hasn’t been ‘factory-fide’ and is sustainably sourced, and their perception on such things, right or wrong, matters.

I had a chance to field test the validity of this millennial food awareness during dinner with the Farm Press Peanut Efficiency winners at this peanut conference. I noticed at dinner Sarah, daughter of Ray Davis, Jr., the PEA winner from the upper southeast this year, as she took pictures of her plate of food and that of her father’s and posted the pics to Snapchat.

“They were talking about you at the conference this morning,” I said to her as she snapped another pic with her phone.

She is 31, quick-witted and a financial manager for a well-known coffee company. She has her own disposable income to spend as she sees fit. She is also the product of a multi-generational farming operation. So, she knows where food comes from firsthand. But even if she didn’t know the reality of the modern food chain, I think she’d still be interested in sharing her food experience.

I asked if she minded being called a millennial or being lumped into that super group. She didn’t mind it and agreed with the perception and reality that she and others in her generation, those near and far from the farm, view food as an experience, an experience in which they share, collectively discuss and learn more about.

Peanut production works well into a compelling sustainable story/marketing campaign, and folks at this particular peanut conference certainly championed that notion. But most all Southeast commodities can equally play a compelling role in a similar storyline, and those commodities are getting better at telling that story.

Most Southeast farmers and their operations work within an environmentally sustainable model, one that is dynamic and constantly being refined and improved upon. Granted, it is a precarious model at times economically speaking. But those farmers might not think about their operations as being part of the telling-a-good-sustainable-story movement, or that the farm can play a major role in the story of food and in the lives of people around the world.

Taking the marketing path used to tout the ‘no-nonsense’ chocolate bar, maybe a good label/equation to lay the groundwork for the stories-behind-your-food movement could be:

1 Farmer in 1 Field with no B.S. = Sustainable, Millennial-friendly Food

But that message might be misleading because a good dose of real B.S. can be a good use of a sustainable fertility resource and practice. Then again, a good sustainable farming practice can also be spreading chicken litter in a field, which might be represented as ‘C.S.’

1 Farmer in 1 Field with C.S. = Sustainable, Millennial-friendly Food

I’ve gotten way too far in the weeds on this messaging attempt. My message has gotten jumbled. It seems trying to develop a marketing message that keeps up with current food trends can be as slippery as ‘Goose S.'

Good luck, take care and thanks for reading.

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