Another consumer said that he tends to avoid the “middle” of most grocery stores where a lot of the processed foods are. Not always, but often. He shared that he tends to buy foods that have fewer ingredients and ingredients he recognizes. In an ideal world, he said he would avoid preservatives, colorings, artificial flavors, GMO’s, antibiotics, pesticides, high‐fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, conditioners, and other additives like MSG. Currently, he buys more processed foods than he would like, stating that convenience is a big factor because he’s busy. He still purchases foods he feels are healthier, less expensive (in bulk at health food stores, without excess packaging), and because he feels they are more in line with his values.
One consumer shared that unless something is labeled “certified organic and free of pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones,” she assume these items are ALL in her dairy products. She doesn’t necessarily distrust farmers; she just thinks that these things seem to be industry standards.
These are just a few of the answers in what appeared to be very interesting and eye-opening interviews. One thing is clear from the responses: we have our work cut out for us in communicating to consumers who we are, what we do, and that we care deeply about our animals, land, environment and the consumer.
While it may be easy to be overwhelmed by the negativity of some of the responses, we should look at it as an opportunity. How would consumers know what we do for a living and that we do care? We know the truth because we live it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Consider how much you know about other people’s jobs and what they do.
One of the YDLI class members shared that the learning opportunities that came from interviewing non-farm consumers wasn’t just one-sided. She said that the people she talked with have been extremely willing and open to letting her tell her dairy farm’s story and to share the truth about the dairy industry.
I think it’s time we all took a stab at finding out what consumers are thinking about. At the end of the day, the more we learn about consumers, the more they learn about us.