For business owners, it's important to realize that generational change will always be a reality. Staying ahead of changing consumer preferences is a great way to offer value to future generations and reap the rewards. However, being late can be harmful to a company. This is especially true for agriculture, where changes in consumer preferences can affect what producers produce and how their farms operate.
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Stay informed with expert information on American agriculture. This year has been full of exceptional events and challenges for American farmers, ranging from logistical problems in our nation's food supply to a global pandemic that has affected the lives of more than 13 million Americans. Before the pandemic, consumers were working harder to reduce the one-time use of plastic and opted for fresh products without the use of packaging. The COVID-19 pandemic turned this trend around, as consumers opted for packaged products, with the perception that they were safer to touch and that others handled them less.
Prepackaged salads were among the most popular consumer purchases and saw a 33 percent increase in mid-March. This renewed demand for packaged products has ignited the debate on sustainable packaging that is recyclable, compostable and biodegradable. However, most existing sustainable packaging options would mean higher prices for consumers at a time when many are mastering their spending. COVID-19 has led many consumers to buy their food beyond crowded grocery stores with long waiting lines.
Many direct-to-consumer business models have thrived during this period and are worth considering especially for those who currently rely heavily on restaurant sales. Direct-to-consumer selling models include community-supported farming operations, e-commerce platforms, monthly subscriptions, or farmers markets. Eliminating logistical intermediaries and establishing relationships with consumers in your community can be an excellent protection against bottlenecks in the food supply in the future. Another type of direct-to-consumer sales model that has excelled in a world driven by the pandemic are food delivery options that do not require personal contact.
This limits potential exposure to COVID-19 for both you, your workers and the consumers you feed. While regular deliveries and curbside pickup options are more attractive to consumers concerned about COVID-19, they can also result in higher operating costs (from shipping costs to transportation labor), which must be taken into account before implementation. Whether a pandemic is happening or not, there's no better way to create a loyal consumer base than to build a story within your company's brand. Consumers are increasingly using their voice through their money and are willing to support a brand with a purpose that goes beyond making money, but this purpose must be shared so that they can make that decision.
Few companies have more inspiring stories than those of American family farm operations. What is the family legacy that exists on the soil of your land? What are your company's values? How have you given back to the community? How are you working to achieve a sustainable future for agriculture? These are all questions you should ask yourself when building your brand story. Once you've established the story behind the operation, now's the time to share it. Social networks are a low-cost, high-cost tactic that is increasingly being adopted in an increasingly virtual world.
There's no better way to keep in touch with current customers while expanding your reach to new ones. No matter what the future holds, consumers need to eat. They may change their purchasing options and adapt to current events, but the need for livelihood will never go away. As masters of adaptation, American farmers and ranchers have maintained our great nation's food security with amazing resilience in the face of unpredictable adversity.
Through these challenges, AgAmerica has been inspired by this selfless dedication and has worked overtime to ensure that these farmers and ranchers get the resources they need to do their jobs. .