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On Marketing Sustainability

It’s clear that supermarkets must do more than simply educate the public on the importance of healthy eating. Long-term, grocery retailers must be able to provide a sufficient supply of quality food that is safe and nutritious at an affordable price. The only way to achieve such a goal is to ensure a sustainable sourcing initiative is inextricably linked to health and wellness programming.

During last week’s FMI webinar on its Sustainability Guide, a number of important points were made about this subject:

— Clarifying organic, local and bioengineering requirements for manufacturers and labels for consumers is crucial;

— Documenting the farm-to-fork journey offers traceability mechanisms that ensure food safety and security;

— Examining sustainability practices in the cultivation, harvesting and delivery of foods will help ensure long-term product availability;

— Increasing demand for affordable organics and sustainable private label products means for substantial changes are coming for category management;

— Responsible sourcing must tackle sustainability subjects, like the effect of pollution on a product.

A caution about eco-labels was raised. Although these third-party verifications may be recognized by some consumers, grocery retailers should focus on the strategic implications of such a program. This includes an understanding as to exactly what the logo means and represents; how this “certification” relates to the supermarket’s sustainability or health and wellness platform; and how this label can be used in customer communication.

As savvy consumers increasingly demand a wide variety of healthy food options at affordable prices and as more supermarkets include health and wellness information in their marketing materials and customer communication, the need for grocery retailers to make a long-term commitment to sustainable sourcing will continue to grow.