Zegar says that another issue driving organics is that we are a country made up of immigrants, many of whom culturally are very attracted to organics because they come from countries where much of the food was grown locally and organically. “We want to cater to those demographics, particularly to those ethnicities who want that product. Everyone wants the things that they are eating a little healthier. Retailers are broadening their market.”
So what’s the downside to catering to those customers wanting organic or “natural” foods? A potential downgrading in their eyes of conventionally raised product. This concerns Daryl Olsen, DVM, Audubon-Manning Veterinary Clinic and president-elect of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. “If there is a definite market for organics or niche-market foods, we need to encourage that demand without saying conventionally raised products are bad,” he says. “I’ve seen videos of people who have had organic products, and they are trying to paint the rest of the industry as very bad. I think there’s a real danger of organic products and how we approach it so that traditional production is not seen as sub-standard or poor. We have to get that information out to the consumer and quickly. Then, I see a great opportunity for an increase in product sales in both the niche or organic markets and also in traditional markets.”
Mike Apley, DVM, PhD,
Daryl Olsen, DVM, says we need to change the public’s perception of what acceptable agriculture practices are today.
Apley gives the example of a “value proposition.” “We’re all interested in value proposition. Consumers are concerned about the value of their meat purchase, but they are also concerned about risk. One of the biggest things you can do to get a headline in this country is put out a story where someone is benefiting from a business practice and someone else is taking the risk, such as what some of the niche marketers attempt to do. It’s the exploding car example -- the company produced a car cheaper, but the consumer takes the risk from the design.”
Olsen mentions a case in
“If you are a niche operator, then you want to make that distinction about your product,” adds Zegar. “But the retailer doesn’t have to make that distinction, he just has to provide that value proposition to the consumer and let the consumer make that choice. Ironically though, if you give the consumer alternatives, you could very well broaden your customer base without saying this product is better than that one.”
Denis Zegar says the consumer has this mental image of what they think is good for them and what is not good for them.