There’s a growing awareness among Americans about food waste—and with good reason, 40% of the food produced in the U.S. is ultimately discarded. Researchers believe that approximately 45% of all fruits and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, and 20% of meat and dairy products are tossed out by suppliers, retailers, and consumers every year.
Meanwhile, the global population continues to rise, more people are food insecure, and food production requires valuable (and dwindling) natural resources. In addition to strengthening their commitment to reducing food wasted in the manufacturing process, marketers can take a forward-thinking approach to addressing this issue and create goodwill among consumers. Here are some approaches to consider.
Make It Social
Morton Salt invites consumers to #EraseFoodWaste with its seven-day challenge, including steps that encourage consumers to plan their meals, inventory their pantry, take stock of the items in their refrigerator mid-week, make or freeze food before it spoils, and throw a leftovers party or gather for a meal made with unused ingredients. They ask consumers to share their story and photos on social media to bring awareness to the cause and generate excitement among consumers. To create a similar program, brands can create content that educates, offer actionable, easy-to-follow tips, and develop a corresponding social program that engages consumers.
Pass on Perfection
San Francisco-based Imperfect delivers cosmetically flawed fruit and vegetables in urban areas (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and Chicago) at prices 30-50% below grocery stores. Consumers sign up for a box online, choose their produce and delivery options, and delivery day. Additionally, the company sources locally when it can to reduce their carbon footprint. Similarly, many grocers have started campaigns to educate consumers on about “cosmetically challenged” produce and offer it at a slightly reduced price. Startup Misfit Juicery uses oddball-looking produce that farmers can’t sell and leftovers from manufacturing scraps to craft its juice drinks. Thrifty consumers have responded well to these programs as less-than-perfect produce becomes de-stigmatized.
Feeling their Oats
Quaker Oats approached the issue with an online recipe contest called “More Taste, Less Waste” and partnered with the James Beard Foundation to challenge professional chefs to develop recipes that used oats and leftover food scraps from their kitchen. Consumers could vote for their favorite recipes and were encouraged to share their own rescued-food recipes on Instagram, tagged with #JustAddOats.
Food and beverage brands are increasingly taking up causes and aligning themselves with philanthropic organizations with the aim of “doing good.” Corporate altruism can elevate a brand’s reputation in the minds of consumers, but only if the connection to the cause they support is inherent to the brand. Women’s Marketing understands the issues that are important to consumers and marketers alike. Contact us today to learn more about our suite of marketing strategy services.
Sources: Harvard Business Review How Large Food Retailers Can Help Solve the Food Waste Crisis December 2017, Adweek Americans Waste A Huge Amount of Food Every Year. Should Big Brands Be Worried, November 2017