It's Not What You Know That Matters - It's How You Tell the Story


Over the past two months the EAT-Lancet Commission report on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems was launched across 25 countries, including a local launch in Melbourne in February. 

This detailed scientific report (which also has a useful summary paper) was put together by 37 scientists from 16 countries with expertise in health, agriculture and the environment with the aim of establishing global targets for healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The group of experts set out to answer:

“What would the world’s food consumption and production need to look like by 2050 to help ensure the Paris Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals are achieved?”

This is important work given food production is the largest cause of global environmental change and a major contributor to population and personal health - areas that people are increasingly worrying about, as indicated in this years consumer trends research

The opportunity that global targets provide for food and beverage brands is two fold. Firstly, they provide a potential framework to audit current processes and practices and align company wide commitments for improvements with these targets, providing the groundwork for credibility and serving to build trust.

Secondly, and equally as important, is the opportunity to use this work as the basis for telling better food stories to consumers about how businesses are taking action toward improving the food system for the future.

Reflecting on my work with clients over the years, I believe we're well versed in setting targets, brand guardrails and commitments around ingredients or creating benchmarks for nutrient content, but we could be doing better at turning this work into meaningful stories that resonate with consumers. 

It's one way to provide greater levels of transparency, grow trust and create more insightful ways of communicating with an increasingly knowledgeable and informed consumer base. 

It's not what you know that matters - it's how you tell the story.

One company aligned with global targets and telling their story well is Schulz's Dairy - a family owned and run organic dairy farm in Timboon Victoria. 

Operating by a set of principles including sustainability, animal welfare, purity and community engagement, the company has developed a tribe of loyal followers by sharing their story in a meaningful way. In fact, people love the brand so much, they are paying for their innovation!

As an example of how they approach their business, when realizing the contribution they were making to the 2 billion 1-litre single-use plastic milk bottles that are used and discarded in Australia each year, the company set out to bring back reusable glass bottles.

After trialing returnable glass bottles at the local farmers markets and receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, they decided to press ahead with a change from plastic to glass.

To fund their glass bottle operation, they ran a crowdfunding campaign and after just 4 weeks, had raised over $106K from 1182 supporters! A record for this type of fund raising.

The lesson?

People want companies to lead the way when it comes to sustainability and they appreciate the efforts that go into making positive change happen – so much so they’re prepared to contribute to the cause.

Opportunities for innovation exist across the entire food system and the EAT-Lancet report provides specific targets outlining where change is required, and where it is backed by scientific evidence. It also provides an insight into the way government and public health policy may go in the near future. 

Taking responsibility for making change, where change is required in the food system, provides the basis for decision making and for telling better stories about food, brands and corporate responsibility that will resonate with consumers. This in turn is good for business, has customers feel great about purchasing your product, builds trust and is good for future generations.