Farmers and those working in the agriculture industry must get better at telling their story as a means of building public trust in the sector and the goods it produces.
That was the message delivered at the Farming Scotland conference in Carnoustie yesterday.
Agricultural consultant and social media guru Simon Haley said the farming industry needed to take advantage of the amount of time consumers spend on the internet and use it as a platform to tell their story and build a brand for Scottish and UK produce.
“People are not bothered about farmers; as long as the food’s there it’s fine,” said Mr Haley.
“People will buy on price at the end of the day. But where you can add value and get a better response from the public is by demonstrating how that subsidy or price relates to social and environmental value.”
He urged farmers to stick their necks above the parapet to explain what they do but warned against using farming terminology, such as feeding cake to cows, as this was alien to the general public.
“There’s a lot of people accessing the internet – if that’s not an opportunity for us to tell our story then I don’t know what is,” said Mr Haley.
“Storytelling is a very powerful tool.”
Food consultant Marion MacCormick, who previously worked as a buying director for Aldi and is involved in the Scottish Government’s farming and food production policy group, agreed and said: “We have a lot of work to do in the UK to make people understand what the sector has going for it.”
She said marketing efforts must focus on the next generation, who are mainly “thoughtful shoppers” with an interest in animal welfare and sustainability.
She added: “The land we do have is going to be precious and how we use it is going to be even more precious.”