Helping Consumers Reduce Food Waste
by Brandi Buzzard Frobose, M.S., Associate Director, Issues Communication, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff
Food waste has been a worldwide topic of conversation for the past few years and rightfully so - nearly 40 percent of the food raised and grown in the U.S. is thrown in the garbage and ends up in a landfill. Although beef is seen as a precious food source and is among one of the least-wasted commodities, beef waste is a significant issue. In fact, according to research conducted by the Beef Checkoff as part of the sustainability lifecycle assessment
, if beef waste was cut in half, full supply chain sustainability would increase by 10 percent. Addressing the issue has to start at home, with consumers, by taking small steps to mitigate food waste.
Over the past few years, various states have instituted new procedures and policies to help mitigate food waste. For example, California buys more than 100 million pounds of farmers’ extra crops to give to food banks and the state offers tax incentives to farmers who donate produce and the haulers who transport it to nonprofits1
. In Vermont, the state legislature passed its universal recycling law, which includes a ban on organic waste in landfills2
. Even Wal-Mart has taken big steps to reduce food waste
by selling “ugly” fruits and vegetables at a discounted price – weather-damaged apples and potatoes are being sold in Texas and Florida stores. These actions and more are helping all consumers, nationwide, realize the severe impact that food waste has on our food supply, environment and food chain sustainability.
Recognizing that food waste is a huge challenge for consumers, as well as influencers and beef producers who work hard to raise beef, several checkoff-funded teams, including Beef Advocacy Training and Engagement, Consumer Engagement, Consumer Influencer and Retail and Foodservice, rallied together to develop a campaign that could reach a number of different audiences, with one unified message – fight against food waste. The 30-Day Food Waste Challenge, which is modeled after the highly successful Protein Challenge, is a drip-style campaign that was designed to challenge consumers to raise awareness and introduce simple changes to fight food waste.
The challenge, which launched on August 1, incorporates many assets from “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” as well as new infographics, inventory sheets and meal planning programs
. The teams collaborated on reaching out and sharing pre-designed talking points, social media messages and FAQs to specific beef community sectors that allowed those groups to reach a broader consumer audience, all while utilizing the campaign-wide theme of #WasteLess, which is a key term that can be measured using digital tools and tracking. These promotional materials were distributed to more than 40,000 Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) grads, consumer influencers and retails and food service stakeholders. These shared materials include messages that resonate with a consumer audience and can be accompanied with an image from the infographic. Additionally, regular updates and reminders are shared with MBA grads to keep the campaign top of mind.
The campaign has generated multiple valuable pieces of content from third-party influencers and MBA grads. For example, Terryn Drieling, a rancher from the Sandhills of Nebraska who blogs at Faith, Family and Beef
“Shouldn’t we be more upset about the food we work so hard to grow being literally thrown in the garbage? Shouldn’t we be making more noise on the issue?
The answer is yes. We should be more upset, and we should be making more noise to draw attention to the insane amounts of food being wasted each year.”
Another prime example of the organic campaign promotion from influencers is a post from popular registered dietitian, and Beef Expert Bureau member, Melissa Joy Dobbins in which she discusses being challenged in life and how those challenges make life interesting. Dobbins previously was highly engaged in the Protein Challenge and now looks to find ways to reduce her food waste
at home by signing up for the 30-Day Food Waste Challenge.
With every successful media campaign, there is also a digital aspect. Using insight from cross-collaboration, specific messages have been chosen to be amplified across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and popular search engines such as Google. As of mid-September, the paid media amplification has resulted in 300,000 impressions and views with more outlets running campaigns through the end of September and into October. These figures are constantly monitored through advanced social media measurement tools such as Nuvi and are growing on a daily basis. All forms of promotion, both organic and paid, have yielded more than 1,075 mentions and 4.2 million impressions using the hashtag #WasteLess.
Figure 1. Sample tweet promoting the Food Waste Challenge
The 30-Day Food Waste Campaign is a prime example of cross-collaboration between multiple programs and the successes that accompany strategic planning. Through utilization of multiple teams and resources, this campaign is able to have far-reaching effects on not just beef producers and their families, but on every consumer who purchases beef or wants to make smart choices for their family, while keeping sustainability at the forefront of their purchasing habits. The checkoff-funded Beef Advocacy Training and Engagement team strives to identify key areas of focus, such as food waste, in order to engage MBA grads to share their stories with an inquiring consumer audience. The success of the Food Waste Challenge will provide valuable insight and learnings for future campaigns.