Making Ethical Food Choices: Tips to Ensure Your Providers Know Your Standards

Ethical food choices

Many consumers are concerned about the ethical sourcing of their food and the treatment of animals, workers and the environment in food production. Making ethical food choices goes beyond just purchasing ‘organically grown’ or ‘free-range meat’, as these labels don’t address all the factors that are important to people.

Throughout this article, we will discuss ways to communicate ethical food standards to your providers and consumers, as well across your marketing campaigns, websites, newsletters, social media channels, menus and labels.

Where your food comes from and how healthy it is matters

The information you share with your customers about where your food comes from and how healthy it is really matters. In fact, a poll reported that 58% of consumers are more interested in healthy eating than they were 10 years ago and, because of this, the food industry is making increasing efforts to support peoples’ vested interest in eating well. When consumers buy from local businesses, they care about how the food is grown and how it is sourced. Consider these tips to be mindful of the ethical food choices you make. 

Cultivate good relationships with your suppliers

Make sure that you talk with those who are providing for you about what you expect from them in terms of ethical food standards. 

That way they are aware of what to provide before they even begin to grow or produce anything. If you have good relationships, then it will make this process a lot easier. If not, then do some research to find suppliers that offer what you need and want. Another option would be to work more closely with those who already provide for you so that they know exactly how to meet your requirements to continue doing business with them.

Source food with greater consideration

When searching for suppliers, consider the following:

  • Is their website sustainable and ethical? 
  • Do they have a good reputation in the industry? 
  • How long have they been in business? 
  • Can you contact them and see what their responsiveness is like? 
  • Are they interested in your ideas for collaboration or input when it comes to sustainability practices?  Are they open to new ideas or suggestions? 
  • What is their pricing structure like, are they competitively priced or do they offer higher quality at a cost?

Also, be sure to ask your providers what they do or don’t use in their products. Whether you’re talking about ingredients, packaging, labelling, water usage and waste management – these all have a bearing on your supplier’s ethical status and standing. 

Make sure to check their Fair Trade certification as some businesses do participate in these programmes. Their current food labelling will also reflect their ethics and dedication to combating climate change and ethical food sourcing. While it may not influence everything you purchase, there is value in knowing that your chosen suppliers are making an effort to support workers and local economies in the countries where you source products or are committed to lowering their carbon footprint.

Negative press can damage your reputation

Negative press about food preparation/storage or when food is sourced badly can damage your reputation. You’ll want to make sure that you’re communicating with your providers to make sure they know what ethical sourcing is, and how it impacts their business. 

And, as mentioned before, be careful about your messaging and communications on your marketing campaigns (in print and across digital formats) and across websites, newsletters, social media channels and menus. Labelling food correctly is a really important field in the food industry generally, and is governed by rules of compliance and regulation to safeguard consumers and suppliers.

Create consistent and clear marketing messages

To raise awareness, drive sales, and make the income and impact you need, requires an ethical marketing strategy.You’ve made it your goal to build ethical supply chains, reduce the negative impact on the environment, and support good causes.

Now is the time to share your offer with the world so you can reach your ideal customers and make a positive impact on the world. When it comes to brand messaging and communication it’s important to have a clear brand identity and purpose. It is strategic to be consistent across any of your labelling, packaging and aligned marketing channels. This can be achieved through colours, textures, infographics and menus. A clear brand will help to  ensure that every touchpoint a customer has with your business resonates with them in a way that reinforces your brand identity. 

To do this effectively, you must define your brand values and principles and use simple language so as not to confuse customers or make them feel like they need an advanced degree in business or marketing to understand what you do and what makes your company special. 

Remember not to lie and be transparent and honest in all of your interactions with customers as well as follow through with the promises made to them because this will only reinforce their trust in you as a company.

Do not accept less than full transparency

When it comes to food transparency, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Being transparent about the sugar content in food and drinks, for example, is necessary if you want to be considered a healthy or ethical food provider. 

You can’t just list sugar on the ingredients label and think you’re being transparent because that’s not enough information. Consumers need to know what type of sugar is being used – cane sugar, beet sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, agave nectar – and how much sugar the product contains. In this way, consumers can have a full understanding of the nutritional value of the product and make better choices based on their own dietary needs.

Highlight and list ingredients 

In accordance with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and a national drive to make people more aware and vigilant about food allergies (especially younger people), the food industry generally is at the forefront of such initiatives and bears a responsibility to consumers.

It is therefore key to be mindful about ingredient lists to ensure that those with food sensitivities, allergies, medical conditions, pregnant women, young children and the elderly can all be made aware of what they are ordering and consuming. Certain foods and beverages can be difficult to digest and could cause inflammation in sensitive teeth. As well as encouraging youngsters to speak up about allergies, parents may want to know whether food is served hot or cold so they can adjust what they order.

Labelling considerations

Ensure that your labels have all the necessary information that customers need to make an educated decision about their purchases. You will want to include things such as where your food comes from, what ingredients you use, and if you offer any health claims. 

Use a website URL with a locally grown or local business tagline in your marketing materials. This way, people can easily find out more about where your food comes from on the web or in person at markets and events.

Ensure your providers are aware of your ethical food sources. Be careful about your messaging and communications on your marketing campaigns, websites, newsletters, social media channels, menus and any of your labelling. 

With all these options, you may wonder what you should and shouldn’t say about your food. Some topics might be off-limits because there are laws about certain products, but usually, you can feel free to tell customers as much as possible. 

This can include whether your food was grown locally or how ethical it is in its production. Share what you know with confidence and remember that consumers look out for themselves. 

You will have many happy customers if they have good information to share with their friends and family. Making ethical food choices matters when caring about local communities and their health. Consumers are willing to help keep small businesses alive and healthy by supporting ethically sourced products made with love!