Building Market Value for Regenerative Farming

Conscious consumers want to know where their food comes from and care deeply how it is produced. And as the negative effects of climate change become more apparent every year, they increasingly favor farmers who cultivate crops and manufacturers that produce packaged products in ways that are good for the planet. While plenty of shoppers held these values long before COVID-19, the pandemic has prompted many more to think about their food purchases in this light and desire closer relationships with farmers and food brands.
The fact that there is ever-expanding market value for sustainably produced food is great news for growers and manufacturers already embracing eco-forward practices. Sales of organic food, for instance, have soared in 2020, proving that consumers are still willing to pay more for organic values even despite a downturned economy. There has also been a run on locally grown and processed goods, beneficial for the climate because the food doesn’t need to travel far, especially those sold direct to consumer. This can be seen in the sharp increase in community-supported agriculture memberships this year, as well as the heightened interest in small, local grass-fed meat producers.  
Farmers, too, have become more eco-minded. Regenerative agriculture, which focuses on restoring soil health and promoting diverse natural ecosystems, is not a new concept, but it has become much more mainstream in recent years. Farmers understand the ecological benefits of planting cover crops, not tilling, raising a variety of crops and integrating livestock, but they also experience benefits firsthand via healthier land, more bountiful yields and healthier, happier animals. When nature is allowed to work as designed, it’s a win all around.
Consumers are catching onto the regenerative movement as well, increasingly seeking out products produced in these ways. In fact, after a yearlong pilot program, the Regenerative Organic Alliance has launched its Regenerative Organic Certified program to help shoppers find finished products produced with concern for soil health and land management, animal welfare, and farmer and worker wellness.
However, even if consumers are hungry for food produced regeneratively—and willing to pay more for it—if the end product doesn’t taste great or fit their needs, they won’t buy. Shoppers who don’t know or understand the value of regenerative agriculture will be even harder to convince.
Leslie Cooperband, who co-founded Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery with her husband Wes Jarrell, makes these points on the most recent Edible-Alpha® podcast. She explains that by operating a regenerative goat dairy and now transitioning their landscape to silvopasture—a type of agroforestry that integrates trees, prairie and grazing animals—they are “trying to create a model that’s incredible for the environment and also recognized in the marketplace. Those things have to be complementary. If they are not, it doesn’t matter what we do. If we can’t convince people our cheese is worth paying more for because we do these things, then the premise of the model is not robust.”
This is something all regenerative farmers and food brands that support regenerative agriculture should keep in mind. Furthering consumer adoption of these values and demand for foods produced regeneratively will require excellent products and solid education efforts. If food companies can deliver on both, they can capture the captive audience for sustainably made foods and convince even more consumers of their ecological benefits.

2020-2021 FFI FaBcap Accelerator Kick-Off

The Food Finance Institute is hosting a virtual industry kick-off event with keynote presentations, FaBcap 4 Investor Presentations, 2020-2021 FFI FaBcap business introductions and industry collaboration. Join us to engage in:

  • Networking via curated connections
  • Industry trends and key insights sharing
  • FaBcap 4 Accelerator investor pitch presentations
  • FFI FaBcap 5 Accelerator company introductions to industry
  • Much more! Additional details to come.
When: Wednesday September 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT
Registration: $35

And now, our roundup of the best food and beverage finance news, events and resources from around the web…

Consultant With TabletBusiness Model Insights

Raising CapitalRaising Capital

National Wholesale BrandsCPG/National Brands

Grocery Store Produce Section Market Trends

Regenerative AgricultureFarming and AgTech

Mergers And AcquisitionsDeals/M&A

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