Educate consumers and help them understand why this issue is important and how it will effect their weekly shopping.
Last week we talked about how one of America's biggest food companies, General Mills, is taking a stand on climate change. While the impact of their statement and their new policies will be great, its the supermarkets who can make an even bigger impact. Why? With a direct connection to shoppers, supermarkets are in a unique position to educate the consumer and help them understand why the issue of climate change is important and how it will effect their weekly shopping.
The latest quarterly report from the privately held global investment management firm Grantham Mayo van Otterloo (GMO) notes, as per the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that "humanity is risking ‘a breakdown of food systems linked to warming, drought, flooding, and precipitation variability and extremes.'” And according to a June report from the Global Sustainability Institute of Anglia Ruskin University by the year 2040, food prices will be four times higher than they were in 2000.
One of our latest consumer panel surveys highlights the fact that most shoppers don't make the connection between weather conditions and food availability, or even food prices. While certain cases, like the California drought or Bird Flu do resonate with consumers, once the media moves on to a new story, its quickly forgotten, and shoppers forget to make the connection between these issues and their weekly shop.
Furthermore, there's a mass of information, not to mention debate surrounding climate change, and it's no surprise that for many it feels like an intangible and confusing issue. So, its time for Supermarkets to take the lead and make the connection for their shoppers. Educate consumers and help them understand why this issue is important and how it will effect their weekly shopping. Our Retail Dietitians, Butchers, Fish Mongers, Bakers, Baristas, all have direct contact with shoppers and are all affected. The Butcher explaining how the California drought, for example, has made organic beef production almost impossible due to the organic regulations specifying the number of days a year cows need to pasture affects supply and price. Or the barista explaining how according to the Worldwatch Institute rising temperatures, altered rainfall patterns, and rising pest incidence will increasingly affect future coffee production and pricing.
As an industry, we must do everything to educate shoppers – especially about sustainability, and those with an ongoing, direct line of communication with customers are the ones that can make the biggest impact.