Food companies are hearing from their consumers - and those consumers have demands. Chris Langholz - President of Cargill AgHorizons - notes that ultimately has an impact on production agriculture. Langholz explains that the consumer is telling food companies around the world, whether it’s an American company like Kellogg’s, or General Mills or Unilever in Europe or a food company in Japan… they’re sending strong messages back that the food they’re purchasing; they want certain health, taste, they want a story around sustainability, they want to know the story of the food…where did that food come from.
The food has to tell a story today, and that story begins on that farm. Langholz says consumers in Italy can get that story if they want it. For certain cheese products in Italy, there’s a serial number on the casing of the cheese, customers can go to the internet with that serial number, the first thing that comes up is a picture of the farm, then there’s a picture of the cow, and then they can see what the cow ate, and where the cow lived, and they can also see where the cheese was transported and how.
The customer wants to know that. Langholz sees this in two views, the integrity of the supply chain can be demonstrated, and it’s a positive story about production agriculture. But the biggest demand for that story - according to Langholz - is actually right here at home in the U.S. - particularly when it comes to health claims going on to say that a good percent of we Americans aren’t as fit as we could be, and we’re looking for things in our culture that could be quick fixes.
And so the food companies have responded to that as well as long term fixes….foods that will reduce cholesterol, foods that will make our bones and joints more healthy. The American consumer has gone unabated in terms of investing in food products and sending messages to food companies, such as Cargill, and w’re going right back to our farmer customers and telling them this is what American’s want, let’s make it happen.
Right now - Langholz says agriculture has not done the job of telling its story. He says U.S. production agriculture has been too humble. We are the leader in the world in terms of productivity, and the leader of the world in food safety, we just haven’t claimed credit for it…we’re pretty humble people, and we need to tell our story, because other stories are being told, the bulls eye has moved to us in many respects, in terms of how we’re treating the environment we’re not being sustainable, we’re putting all these chemicals on, genetically modified and all that stuff.
Those stories are being told, you can see in the Oscars, Food Inc. is up for an award that’s something we need to be conscious about and have a counter message on. Langholz says it’s time to satisfy the education component the consumers desire. But he says agriculture can’t be so humble in doing so.