Next-Level Transparency for Today’s Impact Brands

Next LEvel Transparency Article Image

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the food supply chain like never before. With panic-buying clearing out retail shelves, foodservice sales slowing to a trickle and massive food dollars shifting to e-commerce—all in quick succession—the system’s longstanding gaps, biases and inefficiencies have been exposed and exacerbated. Today, food and farm businesses are feeling the pain of cold-chain storage shortages, meat-processing bottlenecks, insufficient delivery infrastructure, the list goes on.

Although the current supply chain upheaval is impacting companies of all sizes, it’s hitting small, scaling, often-underfunded food and farm businesses especially hard. Even though many are experiencing surging demand for their products—which is great—rapid growth brings on a whole new set of challenges that can be harder to deal with amidst a supply chain in chaos. And unlike big companies with deep pockets, the little guys must navigate these issues with limited resources.

For example, how do they keep customers interested when their inventory keeps selling out? How do they build back inventory when ingredients are in short supply? How do they deal with logistics issues beyond their control, such as when a truckload of frozen products goes to waste because it wasn’t unloaded at the fulfillment center in time, leaving consumers without the food they ordered?

While there are no easy remedies for supply chain challenges, small brands and farmers do have a powerful tool to encourage consumers to continue on this journey with them: transparency. This has always been important, especially for mission-based businesses that support or practice ethical, sustainable and regenerative agriculture and therefore may ask higher prices for their products than conventional brands do.

But today, as consumers crave authenticity and honesty—and as businesses are facing unprecedented challenges that belie their best efforts—transparency is paramount. But beyond just educating consumers about a company’s mission or offerings or how regenerative farming or ranching yields better products—all of which are important—businesses should consider being open about the logistical realities of the supply chain right now. As Tera and The Honest Bison founder Sean Lenihan discuss on the latest Edible-Alpha® podcast, the system today is not clean, it’s not a well-oiled machine, and many hitches that arise aren’t the brand or farmer’s fault. Rather, they stem from the mechanisms in between them and the consumer.

Therefore, educating consumers about what it takes to get them high-quality food can go a long way. It may even assuage some of the bumps that they experience, such as not receiving the items they ordered on schedule. In Sean’s experience, not every customer will be patient and understanding—or even care—but many will. They might even be frustrated, but they’ll appreciate straight talk and be more likely to give the company another shot.

This is next-level transparency. It won’t stop the supply chain challenges from coming, but it can make dealing with them a little easier and help businesses hold onto customers in the process.

Listen to the podcast here!


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Learn how impact investing can transform our food system through lively interviews with famous founders and integrated business pitches from innovative companies on the rise. Hosted by FFI director and Edible-Alpha® podcast host Tera Johnson, this lively event is a can’t miss for food and farm entrepreneurs! Also join us for the Edible-Alpha® Live! Kickoff event December 8th featuring Lost Creek Farm. 


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

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Raising CapitalRaising Capital

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Grocery Store Produce Section Market Trends

Regenerative AgricultureFarming and AgTech

Mergers And AcquisitionsDeals/M&A

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