Do not fear, this is no essay on the need to learn more languages in readiness for a rush of international labour wanting to work for you (though wouldn’t that be nice!) I’m just thinking of the different ‘languages’ needed to communicate with all our different audiences. How do we inspire a young person to join our industry, how do we enthuse Generation Y to swap from berries and power balls to a super convenient British apple, how do we get our message across to the various government departments that are changing our future?
Schools are clearly where we start with all of the above; with the majority of the population several generations removed from primary food production, we have an enormous knowledge gap that affects us in everyway, every day. We shouldn’t be surprised that the majority of the population doesn’t know where their food comes from, they’ve not been on a farm, and neither have their parents or their teachers. With funding cuts and safeguarding issues it’s really hard to get school visits to a farm, that’s why the fruit show education team visits schools, community groups, home educator networks and all the different types of scout and guide groups. They join up with the LEAF education team at STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) events, support open farm Sunday events, and of course spread the word at the fruit show each year. Schools really need articulate members of our industry to speak at careers events – why not see if your old school has an event that you could speak at? It would make our industry more accessible to those making careers choices and also help connect the staff with a food business.
PR is the language of reaching out to different parts of our consumer base. My working with the English Apples and Pears (EAP) team has had a very exciting first six months, the campaign started last September focussing on the ‘Goodness to go’ message, starting to raise awareness of how great, packaging free, healthy and portable our British apples are. Working with a range of social media influencers (people with thousands following their social media account) the Great British Apples message has been successfully placed in front of a new audience. Moving on from the much maligned Millennials we are talking to Generation X – those making decisions for their young family, setting healthy eating habits for more than one lifetime. Generation Y, those who have the potential to reset long term health habits and wellness expectations, those who are eschewing alcohol, possibly meat and dairy too in pursuit of a long and healthy life. These are the two audiences who campaign about packaging, waste, want to move away from processed food, who care about where their food comes from. They are our crucial audience when it comes to growing demand, demanding British top fruit and really crucially those that are engaged in a social agenda along with a healthy one. Might our secret to success lie in a trend for snacks that are under 100 calories, just think of the advantage that apples have, no plastic wrapping.
As an industry we’ve never been that good in enthusing our consumers, I feel never quite aware enough, never quite on message, never quite entertaining enough and certainly not speaking the language of our key consumers. Perhaps now it is time for us to be a little less bloke about our communication strategies and a little more woke?