The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) is stepping into a new role with the launch of a media campaign that tells the story of Canada’s food system.
The CCFI is funded by players throughout the food system from producers to retailers. It has, since its founding in 2016, focused on researching consumer attitudes toward food and farming and providing clear answers to questions from consumers that help to build public trust in the system. But creating a consumer-facing campaign is new for the organization.
Why it matters: Maintaining the trust of the public can reduce barriers to growing an economic sector like food and agriculture.
John Jamieson, president and CEO of CCFI, says that a voice was lacking for the whole sector.
“One thing we identified is that there really was no one speaking on behalf of the whole food system,” he said. On the farmer side there are organizations such as Farm & Food Care, federations of agriculture and agriculture companies, but in the broader food sector, there wasn’t one voice.
The campaign so far is based around a video and the theme It’s Good, Canada. It aims to enforce the notions that the food system is solid, and also that food producers have the backs of Canadians, especially in tough times.
COVID-19 has increased interest in the food system, with some empty shelves at times for certain foodstuffs.
The campaign wasn’t created due to COVID-19, but “in mid-March everything changed, because the food experience in the grocery store changed,” says Jamieson.
“There’s no better time to start a conversation.”
The conversation with consumers in a world of COVID-19 is the starting point, but Jamieson hopes that the relationship will grow further down the line.
Consumers are acquainted with farmers and with grocery stores, but there “are a whole lot of other pieces that make up a pretty robust system,” says Jamieson.
The first advertisement, which shows people working hard across the food system has broad messaging. It’s the introduction, says Jamieson.
Other stages of the campaign will include closer looks at the people who work in the food system. That’s where the conversation should happen.
Examples could include “the truck driver at Wallenstein Feeds delivering feed to livestock producers, or a person working in a plant in Mississauga or producing chicken in Alberta,” says Jamieson.
“We know from research that Canadians don’t have really a good understanding of the food system. The research shows people are interested. I think if we can communicate in an engaging, informative way, we can be in a better place,” says Jamieson.
Supporting public trust in agriculture is also a goal of the campaign.
Jamieson is a former deputy minister of agriculture in Prince Edward Island, where he had a mandate to grow the agriculture economy.
“The greatest hindrance wasn’t access to land or capital, but the big barrier was public trust. People in the communities had a notion of food production that was pretty outdated. If we want to move the industry forward, it’s important to have that conversation.”
Moving out of the pandemic
Agriculture’s role in the Canadian economy post-COVID-19 pandemic will be important, says Jamieson.
“The food system is better positioned than most to grow. If we want to grow the economy, food is an opportunity.”
More information is available at itsgoodcanada.ca.