The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation launched a new approach on March 27 to address emerging issues in the food, agricultural and consumer goods sectors. FMI Foundation established the cross-industry communications effort, the Unified Voice Protocol, with the goal of proactively creating an environment of trust and consumer confidence in purchase decisions. 

FMI partnered with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Animal Agriculture Alliance to develop and fund the first pilot project, which considered sustainability-related poultry production practices with a focus on cage-free eggs and slow-growth broilers.

“It is important to understand the drivers for consumers’ decisions in the marketplace,” said Leslie Sarasin, president of the FMI Foundation and president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute. “This pilot project is a positive first step in helping ensure the food and agricultural industry is responding to actual consumer preferences and furthers FMI’s role and responsibility to serve as the voice of the food retail industry.”

Dr. Jayson Lusk, Ph.D., food and agricultural economist at Purdue University, conducted the research for the pilot project and examined consumer beliefs, knowledge, and willingness-to-pay for specific attributes, such ascage-free eggs and slow-growth broilers. Dr. Lusk’s research team surveyed more than 2,000 respondents who were asked to make a series of choices among products that vary in price, production practices, labeling claims, product color and appearance.


“The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is committed to supporting farmers and businesses across the value chain in making data-driven food production decisions that meet the needs of both producers and consumers,” said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., executive director of FFAR. “We are pleased to join the FMI Foundation and the Animal Agriculture Alliance in sharing the results of this study on consumer beliefs and purchasing decisions related to cage-free eggs and slow-growth broiler chickens.”

"This research is a key component in the effort to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork," said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. "Understanding consumer-purchasing values can help food companies and the agriculture industry connect with customers and start meaningful conversations about animal welfare and sustainability." 

Going forward, FMI will seek input from top leaders of the food, agricultural, and advocacy industries on identifying other emerging issues and potential Unified Voice topics of interest. The FMI Foundation will consider these suggestions among the project’s future case studies to ensure the food and agricultural industries are making informed decisions regarding research, production and retail sales.