Farmers probably don’t have to change anything specific to fit in with Maple Leaf Foods’ product overhaul.
However, the company thinks farmers need to accept the consumer concerns that caused the company to re-engineer everything it makes.
“I think we’re all faced in the value chain, the supply chain all the way back to the farm, (with) this idea of building trust with consumers and commitment to absolute transparency,” said Adam Grogan, Maple Leaf Foods senior vice-president for marketing and innovation, in an interview.
For the company, that means guaranteeing consumers that its products will not contain artificial ingredients or other elements that many say they don’t want in their food.
That doesn’t have a direct impact on farmers, since farmers make the natural products that go into food.
However, farmers need to be careful that they meet consumer demands about animal welfare, environmental sustainability and transparency.
“Animal care is really important,” said Grogan.
“More and more consumers are demanding knowledge and understanding about making sure that we are really responsible to that animal.”
Consumers want to know that farmers are protecting “air, water and land.”
Grogan acknowledged that some people in the food production supply chain find contemporary consumer demands “very daunting,” but they should actually be seen as an opportunity.
“I think we can all reap the rewards of doing those really, really well,” said Grogan.