What America Eats
If you are involved in agriculture, not only in our region, but anywhere in America, you should be concerned about the products that Americans buy and eat. As a livestock producer, it shouldn’t matter what type of livestock you raise, you should really be concerned with what America eats. We are all trying to produce a product that is safe, nutritious, healthy and tastes good, and we all say that is what our product is all about. At the same time, we all are in competition with each other as the animals are raised, fed and sold numerous times and right up to the space on the grocery shelf or in the meat counter.
A while back, Cargill did a survey of more than 1,000 consumers that looked into parents’ attitudes and drivers of food and beverage purchases for their children. As you know, Cargill is a huge international, private producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services that employs around 142,000 people in 65 countries, so, it has a big pile of chips on the table.
The key findings of the Cargill Gatekeeper Purchase Drivers Study included three major findings. First, parents are more likely to seek foods and beverages that appeal to the whole family, rather than products and meals that are just for kids. Also, parents are unsatisfied with the healthfulness of current options across key categories of foods and beverages popular with kids. Finally, parents tend to seek positive attributes, such as whole grains and fiber, rather than avoiding the things they perceive to be unhealthy, such as fat, sugar and sodium, or salt as well call it.
“We know it’s important to meet the nutrition and budget expectations of parents while also satisfying kids on the taste dimension,” said DeeAnn Roullier, marketing research manager of Cargill. “Our research provides a more specific understanding of gatekeeper purchase drivers in categories heavily consumed by kids. This helps us collaborate with customers to develop healthier foods that really resonate.”
In a sense, this is what our check-offs should be doing for us, too, and they are.
The study said that when looking to determine whether it was the kids or the parents who compromise on the kinds of foods they eat, it was the kids. Eighty-nine percent of parents said they ask their kids to broaden their tastes, and 69 percent said they ask their kids to try more adult food. It also said that millennial parents, or those ages 18 to 32, are more likely to say family appeal is important compared to older parents, which suggests young consumers moving into parenthood are more likely to adopt a family approach. The study shows that parents are seeking positive nutrition and avoiding those foods that they perceive as unhealthy.
We do need good public relations and advertisements that promote our products in a positive, healthy manner, but it is going to take all of us to battle the wrong perceptions that are out there. We need to do it in a timely way – not let the stories get away from us and then attempting to combat misconceptions half-heartedly. We need to quit battling among ourselves and stick with the real issues.