On food, certification and changing behavior

Beyond the tiny fraction of socio-environmentally conscience consumers, most of us make automatic choices: it’s the cheap pasta, the sweet oreo cookies and whatever we walk by in the supermarket and seems fresh or tasty. There are however some food attributes that no label currently shows (not that we know what the hundreds of labels mean anymore). Change in Choice reveals the ‘impact attribute’ to consumers, which is enough to switch their choice making from the automatic system to the rational one.

But many ‘specialists’ have done it before! No! Many people and organizations without any ethical principles are working in ’cause marketing’, a field in which companies want to appeal to the socio-environmentally conscious consumers by hiring experts to identify a cause and link one of their products with it. Certification companies are also trying to communicate their impact but nobody listens. And it’s not that big of an impact to begin with. Fairtrade and UTZ have huge shortcomings and although based on the right principles, they proved not to be able to lift farmers out of poverty.

Change in Choice develops innovative interventions, campaigns and even communication channels, never before used to bring about positive change. A couple of examples are:

The Supermarket Museum

The Global Value Chain Art Installation

Most food products labelled or described as fair, sustainable or certified are introduced especially for this new group of ‘green consumers’. It’s a way to increase the total number of customers and the market share. It’s an effort to cover multiple segments, among which the one comprised of people who are a little bit more aware about the negative impacts created by agriculture.

The majority of these ‘green consumers’ are actually confused about what product attributes such as organic, biological, Fairtrade or UTZ Certified actually mean. A small proportion in this ‘green consumer’ segment did some research and read about what it means for a product to fall in such a category. However, in the case of Fairtrade and UTZ Certified the complexity of the impacts created for the farmers certified are extremely difficult to comprehend. In fact, you can ask impact measurement experts and they will tell you that the small positive impacts created for farmers, such as higher incomes and children attending school, cannot be attributed to certification alone.

With these said, we believe that all of us can be in the group of ‘green consumers’, as we can all be touched by sad and by happy stories. But for some of us the stories related to food production are too far away to make a difference in our food purchases. Change in Choice brings these stories closer and connects them with products that people can buy guilt-free, products that create only positive social and environmental impact.

Ideas like the ones mentioned above are therefore meant to capture the general public, highly expanding the ‘green consumer’ segment.

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