The food revolution, fad, trend or social enterprise?

by Halinka Panzera

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution can teach us much about social enterprise strategy. In trying to change the way we eat he has implemented a comprehensive multi media campaign. What makes it a social enterprise and not advertising is the fact that it is public education. He is concerned about the quality of food people are consuming and how it affects their health. His approach involves a genuine focus on food issues as they relate to the end user. Through his attention on the health needs of the population his brand becomes strengthened.

For his campaign to be successful Jamie Oliver has to provide alternatives to our current food preparation and eating habits that address consumer needs. Food quality, price, speed of preparation, convenience are all issues he has to rethink and re-solve for a society that has become accustomed to fast food frozen convenience. It becomes about education.

In addressing issues food manufactures need to address, Jamie is providing corporations with a model for new strategies of communication and action relevant to the mums and dads who after forty odd years of advertising and mass production based food models, have resulted in eating models that are not sustainable in the long term for our heath.

I have heard consumers for years tell me what a confused, cluttered, crazy, advertising-message, dominated world it is and we at my research company- BDC Market Intelligence have seen firsthand how this is shaping our values.

I hear business talk about authenticity, transparency and consumer engagement and so far in terms of a real consumer led revolution, I have seen very little in the Australian business landscape. The reason why business is floundering and unable to take the steps forward to address consumer concerns is because it does not have the relevant social value models at the decision making table to address the change in consumer sentiment.

Incorporating social values in to business models is not a fad but an important part of a business strategy. Research suggests that over 60% of consumers are looking to support/trade with business with more sustainable authentic and transparent business policy. Consumers are happy to trade as such in more engaging ways that ever before, but they seem still to be waiting for the business to pick up the cues.

So what’s this all got to do with a business revolution? Through our food choices and lifestyle we have reached a point in history where we are actually reducing the life expectancy of the next generation. It’s important to see business sit up and take note of its role in the creation of this terrible truth. A business revolution begins by taking into account what is happening in the real world and dealing with it. Social entrepreneur movements provide models that use authentic storytelling that sets the record straight and is then followed with an implementable strategy.

No more glossy marketing campaigns, walking the walk takes a new type of leader who is prepared to stand up and be counted. The case studies of Unilever I have blogged shows how profit only motives are not enough. Unilever is looking for a deeper involvement with the society it is a part of. Others companies are starting to do the same.

Go to Halinka’s Blog

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9 thoughts on “The food revolution, fad, trend or social enterprise?

  1. I’m in between jobs now, and while going for many interviews I have noticed this on company’s websites. The trend for social and environmental awareness is on the increase, even in some of the most traditionally uncaring industries, like paint and ink manufacture.

    Customers want their corporates to act responsibly, many are doing this, and it’s about time. But, I don’t know about the mining industry; I’ve heard of horror stories coming out of what they are doing to the world in the name of profit. Let’s hope one day that every company will finally get a conscious.

  2. We are living in revolutionary times. The sad thing about the world we live in is that there is a lot of history/baggage people and leaders bring to their daily experience, and these outdated paradigms are no longer relevant.
    What I have observed is that many people don’t always recognise we live in revolutionary times, you raise an important point which needs discussing.
    So the positive is that there are leaders that are socially aware of their footprint, I have blogged about Unilever and others before. Their approach is not only inspirational to outsiders but they are tapping into true work motives and as such are leveraging the diversity dividend and innovating whilst still making money. But given 97% of Australian business is under performing, the opportunity to tap into this unrealised potential is huge. There in lies the paradox, the misguided idea that to have a social consciousness one cannot do so at a profit. Business goals today need to be broader to encapsulate more than just profit only objectives.

    • We have to start somewhere and taxing people is usually a good motivator, but does it really tackle the problem, I doubt it. The mining tax looks like many of this governments initiatives, un-thought out.

      What halinkapanzera says is true, businesses should have a broader view of the world they live in and incorporate a social conscious into their objectives. Some are doing it. Some are not, and I’d wager that the ones who are not doing it are from the old blokey school.

  3. I agree. We have to start somewhere. Foolishly, I believed that these taxes would force businesses to consider their eco footprints, however it’s become a joke. As consumers, we need to start swaying them with our wallets.

  4. From the perspective of the US, I would say that the only way to “encourage” a social conscience on the part of big business is to use our purchasing power to persuade them. Unfortunately, most Americans are motivated more by a desire for inexpensive and easy, rather than environmentally beneficial. Sorry to be such a cynic…..!

    • That’s okay! People are becoming more aware in Australia (slowly). You can see it here, as our larger corporations are marketing ‘organic products’ and we are becoming savvy on the BS labels like ‘all natural’ (which can mean anything).Companies are listening to consumers and at the moment consumers are watching documentaries like ‘Food Inc’ and going mental about the food industry.
      We are also starting to talk about the fact that you can buy 2 litres of milk for $2…how much does that leave for our farmers? Not bloody much.
      On the whole, people are still opting for cheaper, because we can’t afford to do otherwise – especially because Australia is one of the most expensive places to buy food, in the world. I also think that things are going to get a whole lot worse, before they get any better. Here’s a kick in the pants: http://www.greenjourney.com.au/food-security/51-food-security-articles/335-nz-food-bill

      • WHAT? Oh, my good Lord! How can any govt try to ban food self-sufficiency? I have to say that here in the Northeast US, especially away from the big cities, we are enjoying more and more local, organic, sustainable foods Our family has noticed that because we only buy local, more expensive meats, we eat far less of it (talk about a win-win!). I guess you’re right; it is a slow, but hopefully a steady process toward a greener lifestyle.

  5. Indonesia aims to be self sufficient for all of its food, China is 95% self sufficient for all of its food needs and only imports soya beans (they do not grow in China.) Bhutan is 100% organic. The west still has a long way to go.

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