October 7, 2016

Team Up To Gain Consumer Trust

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

Dairy farmers currently face challenges that prior generations also had to overcome. However, today’s farmers are also facing new challenges. Increased pressure from consumers is not only impacting farmers, but processors too.

According to Robert Ernhard, dairy sourcing specialist for Nestle, it’s time for producers to step up to the transparency plate.

“Many millennials have an emotional connection to their food,” he addressed attendees at the Global Dairy Symposium, hosted by the World Dairy Expo. “Today’s consumers want transparency and traceability.”

Ernhard says he’d like to see producers find a way to aggregate all the data collected on farms to communicate the high level of care cows receive around the world.

Similarly, Kristin Peck, president of Zoetis U.S., says dairy farmers need to learn to tell their story better. Consumers are concerned about antibiotics in the food supply, and while it’s achievable for poultry producers to raise antibiotic-free chicken, it’s much more difficult for dairy producers to do so, according to Peck.

“It’s not realistic to ask that an animal that will live more than six years not be treated with [any] antibiotics,” she says.

Pay attention to how the poultry groups are handling these challenges, Peck warns. Peck and Ernhard agree it’s going to take farmers working together to educate consumers about the value of science-based practices.

“It starts with building trust,” Ernhard says. “Trust takes years to build, seconds to destroy and forever to repair. It is personal, emotional and experience-based.”