The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Farmer Goes to (Super) Market Program is a Hit at the N.G.A. Convention

Farmer Goes to (Super) Market Program is a Hit at the N.G.A. Convention

Shoppers and Trends

February 22, 2009

“The groceryman is, of course, the bridge between the farmer and the consumer, and as such must be acquainted with the desire and the needs of both.” When President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed those words to the predecessor organization of the National Grocers Association, the National Association of Retail Grocers on June 16, 1954, the chances were fairly high that a grocer personally knew more than a farmer about the food supply system. But times have changed.
The United States farmer has become increasingly efficient and fruitful during those years, enabling grocers to offer an abundance of food products to consumers. However, at the same time productivity has gone up, communications have suffered. There now exists a gulf, or a form of “separation anxiety,” between the farmer and the grocer. 
Political activists have increasingly filled the information vacuum that has been created by separation between farmers and grocers. Many of their messages can be sensationalized, inaccurate and a direct threat to sales of store perimeter items that represent food marketers’ higher margin items. The result is a confused consumer who feels disconnected within the food chain and is searching for a trustworthy source on food and food related issues. TheFarmer Goes to Market Program may offer a solution for reconnection.
Craig Rowles, Liz Doornik, John Gillespie, Tom Brown and Ann Burkholder are all farmers and all part of the Food Chain Communications/N.G.A. Farmer Goes to Market Program. They informed and educated retailers, wholesalers and university students – all part of the attendee base at this year’s N.G.A. Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada – about the promise and wonderful benefits of this program. Bill Drake, professor from Cornell University and former SUPERVALU executive, said that his discussion with Ann Burkholder was unbelievably informative and the best part of a very good convention. Farmers and retailers were connecting and communicating on a wide range of issues, with both parties agreeing the exchange of ideas must continue.
By growing in knowledge about the farm and farm technology, grocers can equip themselves to be an indispensable link in the food chain, as President Eisenhower stated a half a century ago. This is a wonderful opportunity for grocers and farmers to continue the dialogue and help consumers make smart choices when they enter our stores.
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