A quick walk through the supermarket’s produce section or a stroll through the local farmer’s market demonstrates organic products are gaining a foothold in the American food system. An estimated 82% of households purchase organic food products, accounting for five percent of total US food sales.
Additional Margin Potential by Growing Organically
While organic production methods typically result in lower harvestable yields, organic farming is 22-35% more profitable than conventional systems due to additional margin potential when growing in the organic sector.
This additional margin potential arises as input costs are lowered, and consumers are willing to pay a thirty-percent premium for organic products. Research shows organic premiums need only be 5 to 7% higher to match conventional agriculture’s profitability. So why then, are consumers willing to pay a higher price tag for organic food?
It’s simple. Consumers are willing to pay extra for the indirect benefits of organics, such as environmental sustainability and producing a safe, nutritious food supply.
Why Organics Messaging is Important
Unlike other major food market segments (dairy, pork, beef, etc.), there is a lack of a national marketing campaign promoting organic food and moving it forward. Instead, producers must be their own voice, creating a strong organic brand message to attract customers and build their business.
Successful organics messaging is essential as it establishes product credibility with customers. As it stands, only 26% of consumers trust organic labeling of food products because of the tactics employed in previous market spins by food lobbyists and special interest groups.
Once producers establish credibility and trust, they can fairly improve their pricing.
Keys to Effective Organics Messaging
Creating an effective organics messaging strategy is slightly different than marketing conventional products. To build credibility, it’s necessary to maintain absolute transparency and appeal to customers’ emotional side.
The following points are helpful when constructing organics messaging.
- Explain what sets you apart. How are you different from your competitors? Where do you stand out or shine?
- Use positive messaging to promote your products. Past organic messaging strategies disparaged non-organic products through negative messaging and actually decreased the overall consumption of produce. Focus instead on distinguishing the benefits of healthy “real food” over processed foods.
- Incorporate farm values. Explain how production methods are environmentally sustainable and reduce the farm’s carbon footprint. Emphasize the products are healthy and grown locally.
- Provide details about the product(s). Provide as many specifics about production methods as possible, making you sound knowledgeable. Also, highlight the traceability of inputs used in production. Transparency is paramount to developing trust.
- Stay sincere, but come across as authoritative. Again, it’s critical to appear knowledgeable without being negative.
- Build social media platforms. Share photos of various production steps and showcase the organic companies, agri-input suppliers, and any other partners you work with. Engage with your followers. Consumers are more willing to purchase from a company that listens and responds to their comments and questions.
Coupled with the above points, the Stewardship Index provides farmers with methodology useful in obtaining increased pricing for their produce. Buyers will always try to purchase items for the lowest possible price, disregarding product attributes if a clear benefit isn’t demonstrated. The SISC coalition develops and shares important indicators of stewardship.
According to the website, “The Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC) is a multi-stakeholder initiative dedicated to developing tools for measuring sustainable performance across specialty crop (all fruit, nut and vegetable) supply chains. SISC offers a suite of outcomes-focused metrics enabling operators to benchmark, compare, and communicate their own performance.”
Being aware of, and wherever possible, taking part in initiatives such as these gives growers an understanding of the needs in developing the world of organics. It also provides a voice to farmers in comment sessions run by these types of institutions, allowing them to add their thoughts on organics and pricing.
Examples of Consistent Organic Messaging
Little Leaf Farms, a technology-driven greenhouse out of Devens, Massachusets, demonstrates consistent, exemplary organics messaging in the soilless farming sector. They are dedicated to bringing the freshest, best-tasting baby greens to the East Coast. Their messaging focuses on the innovative technologies behind their sustainable greenhouse and the quick delivery of freshly picked products to markets to guarantee quality.
At Little Leaf Farms, our greens are never treated with chemical pesticides. Our greenhouse uses a state-of-the-art biological control system to manage pests and provide our consumers with products free of any pesticide residue.
Chemical and Pathogen-Free
Source: Little Leaf Farms
Run by CEO Irving Fain, Bowery is a newer urban produce farm with a mission to elevate organic farming to the next level. Utilizing today’s impressive CEA technology, Bowery grows “post-organic” greens -- produce “defiantly free from pollutants or pests” -- in highly controlled environments and Fain is passionate about his company’s role in modernizing the world’s farms.
“What we’re able to do at Bowery is the next evolution, the next step, from what organic was able to do from where industrial agriculture was before.”
Creating effective organic messaging isn’t easy, but it is doable. However, we understand that sometimes we could do with a little guidance, which is what we’re here to do. As a company that is enabling soilless farms to grow organically, we know what it takes to get the organic messaging right in order to then affect pricing. We’d be happy to help you.