California grapegrowers participating in a sustainability workshop.
Paso Robles, Calif.
-- "Sustainability" has become a hot topic among members of the U.S. wine industry, with more and more vintners and growers embracing sustainable practices. But what does sustainability mean to consumers, and is there truly a market for sustainable products? Kate Peringer, marketing communications manager for The Hartman Group, will present the results of a study on this subject at the Sustainable Ag Expo, scheduled for Nov. 1-2 in Paso Robles.
Peringer's presentation will highlight the findings of "The Hartman Report on Sustainability: Understanding the Consumer Perspective," conducted by the Washington-state-based consulting and marketing research firm.
According to Blaine Becker, Hartman's director of marketing and communications, American consumers are willing to pay more for sustainably produced products. "Just like consumers are sometimes willing to pay up to 30% more for organic products, the same is true for sustainable products," he told Wines & Vines
. Though only a small number of consumers are aware of which companies use sustainable practices, Becker said, "People are starting to look for that information on product labeling."
The report shows that food and beverages are, by far, the primary gateways to consumer participation in sustainable purchasing behaviors. Key purchasing cues for food and beverages include sustainable attributes and symbols such as organic, local, fair trade, recyclable, etc.
Additional findings include:
- Sustainability is a fast-evolving concept. Consumers currently have very little understanding of what sustainability is; yet, awareness is rapidly increasing and grassroots definitions are beginning to solidify. It is critical to begin orienting company innovation, communication and experiences toward consumer definitions, not industry definitions, of sustainability to ensure your efforts are relevant.
- While "sustainability" is not yet a household word, it is an umbrella term for six key values: healthier, local, social responsibility, environmental responsibility, simple living and control.
- An increase in the ability to easily participate in local behaviors (e.g., shopping at farmers' markets) is intensifying consumers' orientations to sustainability overall.
- Consumers feel fairly powerless as individuals to make change happen and, therefore, have great expectations and hopes for companies to "do the right thing." This potentially indicates a wide-open space for development and communication of sustainable products and practices.
In addition to "The Hartman Report on Sustainability," the Sustainable Ag Expo includes seminars addressing legal issues, labor issues and worker safety, protecting air and water quality, crop specific research, energy efficiency and more. Farmers and ranchers, resource professionals, consultants, and agriculturalists of all types and farming philosophies will be in attendance.
Trade exhibits will be of interest to a broad range of farmers, and will include information on everything from machinery to fertility to biodiesel. The event also meets significant continuing education requirements for Pest Control Advisors, Private Applicators, Certified Crop Advisors, and the Conditional Ag Waiver for Irrigated Agriculture.
For more information visit sustainableagexpo.org
or call (805) 369-2288.
To learn more about The Hartman Group, or to order a copy of the sustainability report, visit hartman-group.com