Field-to-Fork: The power of provenance

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With the meteoric rise of direct-to-consumer brands, it’s of little surprise that consumer demand for field-to-fork brands continues to steam ahead. Traditionally field-to-fork only included food and drink produce that was served locally and could be traced back to local roots, usually a farm.

Today field-to-fork has a broader meaning, and global supply chains means that for many this has grown to include international networks through specialist retailers and farmers markets. Independent producers are now able to shower locals and tourists with their culinary delights the world over. The promise of a field-to-fork experience not only quenches the consumer thirst for discovery, but also offers the opportunity for people to take more control over what they eat.

The strategy team at AgencyUK devised a useful framework for field-to-fork brands that helps each one to tell their individual brand story in a way that is truthful and compelling for consumers. There are three functional benefits that apply to almost all field-to-fork brands we have worked with:

1. Fresh and local ingredients

2. Transparent production processes

3. Less waste

Each of these functional benefits resonates with one of the known attitudinal shifts that are continuing to take hold in consumer buying behaviours. Interestingly, each one is also very difficult for multinational brand houses to deliver on.

1. A rising interest in provenance. For consumers, this associates with better quality and better tasting produce, as well as an often assumed level of local sustainability.

2. A desire to access hard to reach brands. Buying field-to-fork brands sometimes requires access to seasonal ingredients and traditional recipes. Driven by celebrity chefs and cooking shows, consumers are continuing to be much more interested in what they should buy and when.

3. The expectation of transparency. Consumers are increasingly looking for reassurance that the brands they buy from are open and transparent about their food production processes. This offers consumers control over the food they eat and its potential impact on their health as well as the environment.

Whether it is a conscious decision or not, field-to-fork brand marketers have been tapping into their roots in this way for years. And now multinational brands are trying desperately to garner local appeal using similar tactics, but they miss out on the authenticity that’s required to deliver on it. The three common marketing strategies include:

1. A face of… passionate about their cause and usually a company founder or higher profile brand ambassador. They obsess over being disruptive, and have a compelling story to tell. We originally saw it with Body Shop and currently see it in BrewDog.

2. A purpose that is usually linked to social or environmental impact. Many form trusts and charities alongside their day-to-day business endeavours, making their brands a champion for good. Innocent Drinks started with this strategy and Pukka Tea delivered on it in spades.

3. Breeding extraordinary brand advocacy. Getting your customers to sell your brand is how many direct-to-consumer brands are shaking up retailers and displacing traditional shopper tactics. Field-to-fork brands have always had a way of mobilising their customers to do the selling for them, and it’s even easier today through social media.

You can and should use each of these strategies to inform your marketing and your content plan. If done well, you will see over time how it brings your brand to life in a rich, meaningful and honest way.

This is the final part in the Independent Food & Drink Producers blog series. You can also read Who Killed Kraft? and Brexit Britain: Food & Drinks Brands Take Back Control.