Much of the discussion around reducing food waste has focused on the individual household consumer – after purchasing food at the supermarket. An important avenue for addressing the problem lies, indeed, with supermarkets themselves. Supermarkets have strict cosmetic standards about what they will accept from their growers and suppliers. Farmers know that fruit and vegetables that do not conform in size, shape, and colour – even if perfectly good to eat – will not be accepted by the supermarkets. In turn, supermarkets also lay the “blame” on picky consumers. (The power of supermarkets in dictating terms in their contracts with growers is for another blog post.)
The French supermarket chain Intermarché has designed an interesting and successful campaign against food waste. It is designed to raise awareness among consumers and to provide an outlet for food that would otherwise be thrown out before getting to the farm gate. Using a multi-pronged marketing approach (including cheaper prices, special branding, and recipe and product development), Intermarché is showing that even an ugly carrot can be a beautiful thing. You can also learn more about the European Year against Food Waste here.
Before I start writing about organic+ activities and consumers I would like to introduce myself.
My name is Corinna Feldmann and I study Organic Agriculture in my second year. I just finished my master thesis: ‘What does the consumer take up? – A case study on communication in the rural web around the dairy in Andeer’.
Everything started in late spring of 2009, when I decided that I would like to do my research on consumers and their opinion on producer’s activities which go beyond the minimum standards of organic regulations. So, I found my way to the Rural Sociology Group and met Bettina Bock. Doing some investigations on the internet I came across the first report of the EU Core Organic Project on Consumer Farmer Partnerships which deals with the identification of communication arguments used by small-scale farmers and producers who engage in organic+ activities. Thereupon I got into contact with the research institute for biological farming (FiBL) in Switzerland who is one of the partners in this EU project. In May I wrote my research proposal with the help of Heidrun Moschitz and Flurina Schneider from FiBL and Bettina Bock. The core of my research was to find out what aspects of the communication arguments consumers perceive as important. Continue reading