Equitable Food Initiative, the workforce development and certification organization that partners with growers, farm workers, retailers and consumer groups, is expanding to business-to-consumer outreach as it aims to provide support and added value to retail partners and EFI-certified growers.
To hone the consumer message and strategy, EFI has formed a marketing advisory council to provide input and insight to the EFI board of directors, staff and certified growers. The council, made up of members from various organizational landscapes, will provide guidance and recommendations for consumer outreach to bring greater awareness of EFI.
The council is tasked with evaluating consumer trends, expanding dialogue around the core pillars of EFI’s social responsibility and workforce development programs and providing context for messages resonating with consumers.
EFI has always worked to fulfill its mission by bringing everyone in the supply chain to the table to find solutions from multiple perspectives.
To ensure an appropriate diversity of voices and roles, the recruitment process for council members spanned nearly a year as industry thought leaders and marketing professionals were invited to participate and the council structure was adopted. Members include:
- Danielle Nierenberg, president and co-founder, Food Tank
- Chris Padgett, marketing and digital strategy leader, CPG companies
- Chisara Ehiemere, senior research lead, ROSI, NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business
- Christopher Pendergraft, digital marketing strategist
- Yareli Esteban, CEO of Strategar
- Lori Taylor, founder and CEO, The Produce Moms
- Gissel Neri Corcoles, student president of Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences
- Miguel Campos, health and safety farm manager
The group had an initial virtual orientation in late 2020 and during its first meeting in early 2021, developed both an existing audience and consumer insights survey that sought to learn more about social responsibility priorities and how consumers educate themselves about socially responsible products.
The survey received nearly 300 responses. What was evident throughout the survey was a clear consumer interest in worker rights. This audience reported that improved working conditions for farm workers was the most important value of the program. When asked how they would support this, 80 percent of respondents said they would pay more for produce grown by socially responsible operations and that they want to see more about working conditions on packaging. Respondents also strongly connect social responsibility and worker rights to a company’s sustainability efforts. More than 60 percent of respondents of the audience survey have either criticized or boycotted a brand due to its actions or beliefs.
Results from the survey will be shared with the advisory council later this month.
“The amount of experience offered by our council is staggering and provides for broad-reaching dialogue about current and future consumer messaging that will be instrumental to the expansion of the Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured label,” said LeAnne Ruzzamenti, EFI director of marketing communications.