How to Make Sustainability More than a Buzzword
04.21.21 Jane Hillstrom
Sustainability is a frequently used buzzword that’s gaining traction with consumer audiences.
In fact, 59% of the public says sustainability is important in the foods they consume. And approximately two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands (it’s even higher for millennials and Generation Z).
If you consider that Gen Z and millennials represent about 42% of the consumer buying power in the U.S., these are facts to pay closer attention to. But how can you make it mean more than a buzzword?
Whether your end-customer is the farmer or the consumer at the grocery store, every business has the responsibility to show how agriculture is part of the solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing livestock production’s carbon footprint.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Strengthen your commitment to farmers. Consider what you can do to help your customers reach a carbon-neutral status. Perhaps it’s a new technology or a practice to help sequester carbon. Farmers are making significant strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through continued efficiency gains in production and more. Farmers continue to define sustainable agriculture by elevating ethical business practices, implementing transportation solutions, ensuring high standards for animal welfare and committing to environmental stewardship. Do your initiatives help farmers reach their goals?
- Operate as a purpose-driven company. How do your products and services sustain farmers, the planet or communities? Is there an opportunity to include your commitment to agriculture sustainability in your mission statement?
- Live by your words. Examine all aspects of your business with a sustainability lens, including products, employee safety, climate change, environmental stewardship, animal welfare and more. Incorporate sustainability initiatives company wide. Sustainability practices build your brand to assist in recruitment, build employee and customer loyalty and improve the lives of the people who live and work in your communities.
- Talk about your agriculture sustainability commitment. Share messages with your employees to use in conversations. Add information on sustainability to your website and social media (and include metrics if you have them). Consider a message training workshop on your initiatives for company spokespersons.
- Be careful not to greenwash. Don’t add a sustainability message just for the sake of talking about it with no action behind it. Farmers and consumers see through greenwashing and it can damage your brand’s reputation.
Farmers and consumers will continue to track your company’s progress on sustainability initiatives. All of agriculture needs to step forward and join the conversation to help the public see how farmers produce nutritious, responsibly produced food.