David Fikes, VP of consumer/community affairs & communications for the Food Marketing Institute speaking to OLC.

Customers: Empowered, Informed, Entitled

As farmers, it’s easy to get caught up in the details of raising and producing food, because, well, that’s what we love to do. But, have you ever thought about what customers buy when in the grocery store? Or what things they think about when deciding to make a purchase?

David Fikes, vice president, consumer/community affairs & communications for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) talked to us about those very things at the recent Ohio Livestock Coalition annual meeting. According to FMI, 13.5 percent of grocery sales are in the meat/fish/poultry department, about 11 percent is produce and 25 percent is dry goods (food).

Top of mind for consumers when purchasing food are price, taste and convenience. Everything else is run through those three filters, so things like animal welfare, GMOs, and environmental sensitivity are a secondary thought. A growing category is health and wellness – mainly because the Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers are aging.

FMI represents food retailers and wholesalers and are sandwiched in between customers and the farmer when food issues arise. Today’s customers are empowered, informed and entitled, and are technology driven. They are hungry for information and demand transparency of production practices, management principles and company values. I know that farmers do the right thing, the right ways, for the right reasons, but we need to make it a point to take every opportunity we can to have conversations with consumers and tell our story. I can’t think of a better group of individuals to talk to consumers about food production than Ohio Farm Bureau members.


Read about Ohio Livestock Coalition’s Environmental Stewardship Award and Neighbor of the Year Award winners, who were recognized at the annual meeting.

Learn more about the speakers at Ohio Livestock Coalition’s annual meeting.

Dr. Leah C. Dorman is Ohio Farm Bureau’s director of food programs.

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