Pork Producers Urged to Reassure Consumers about Food Choices

CANADA - A professor of public relations with Palm Beach Atlantic University suggests those involved in animal agriculture need to do more to reassure their customers that they can feel good about their food consumption choices, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 23 January 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

Advocating for Our Future was among the topics discussed yesterday as part of the 2013 Banff Pork Seminar.

Dr Wes Jamison, a professor of public relations with Palm Beach Atlantic University, says opponents of animal agriculture have been very successful in making the public feel guilty about their food consumption choices.

Dr Wes Jamison-Palm Beach Atlantic University

You're competing against a lot of voices who's basic premise is, when they communicate to consumers, that what consumers are doing by buying your product is wrong.

Lots of voices, animal welfarists, environmentalists are basically trying to convince consumers to feel guilty over their pork consumption. Opponents of animal agriculture use a lot of social media to try to carve off urban and suburban consumers who don't understand farming and can't and won't.

But yet they understand pet ownership so one of the tools is to always present your message simple enough to be understood by the consumer, relevant to their everyday experience and your repeat it over and over again.

The reason animal welfarists and opponents show images of dogs and cats is because it makes sense to the pet owning public here in Canada and then they can slip in their message, treat farm animals better.

They are also extremely gifted at inciting emotional reaction, whether they be undercover videos, whether they be using guilts, or the fact that most consumers are hypocrites, they use those tools to cause consumers to feel negatively about their choice to consume animal products.

Dr Jamison notes testing has shown consumers already feel an abstract sense that they're being made to feel guilty about their consumption choices so the job of Canadian agriculture is to help them feel good and to give them permission to continue.

He says messages that need to be used are, you need to feel good about Canadian agriculture, you need to feel good about eating animals raised in Canada and consumers will respond.

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