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Wegmans Ties Sustainability to Consumer Trust

WASHINGTON — Building consumer trust in a brand’s integrity is the best way to overcome confusing messages about sustainability, according to Jason Wadsworth, sustainability coordinator, Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y.

Speaking at the Food Marketing Institute/Grocery Manufacturers Association Sustainability Summit here, Wadsworth said fostering customer confidence has been a successful approach for Wegmans, which is known for many of its sustainability efforts.

“Brand trust matters,” he said. “Customers who come to Wegmans feel good about our brand and that we’re doing the right thing, even if they don’t always have all the information about sustainability. If you have consumer trust and brand integrity, then you have a license to operate.” 

The burden is on retailers and other companies to earn that trust through their sourcing and other efforts, he said.

“You need to trust who you’re sourcing from,” he said, while acknowledging that increased globalization of sourcing makes this a more difficult challenge.

In addition, companies “have an obligation to tell their stories and be as transparent as possible,” he said.

Read more: Wegmans Uses 40% Recycled Plastic Bags

Wadsworth spoke as part of a pre-summit panel called “Unraveling the Complexity of Sustainable Agriculture,” which covered the topic from farm to fork. Others on the panel included Cristian Barcan, head of Applied Sustainability, BASF Nutrition and Health; Suzy Friedman, director, Agricultural Sustainability, Environmental Defense Fund, and Rick Stott, executive vice president, Agri Beef Co. 

The summit’s agenda covers a wide array of topics including global food security, energy, recycling, waste and social responsibility.

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