It seems one of the concepts consumers are concerned with in 2018 is mindfulness. Plastered across every package and billboard from clothing brands to workout classes, the mindfulness mantra cannot be escaped. Particularly in the food and produce industries, mindful consumption has been a huge buzz topic.
But what does consuming mindfully even mean?
Mindfulness can be generalized as the desire to make informed, ethical decisions when buying products and supporting brands. This means that now, more than ever, it falls on businesses to explain how they operate. The produce industry has felt its fair share from media railing against pesticide-treated fields to immigration reform to humane working conditions. These have been very important moments for the produce industry, forcing leaders to take a closer look at how their businesses are run as well as ways in which they need to be changed.
At its core, the obsession with mindfulness has pushed the produce industry to answer some difficult questions and make some much needed changes. As those of us in the industry know, produce can be cutthroat. This competitive nature has pushed companies to make morally questionable decisions to maximize profits. From severely underpaying laborers to pricing out technological advancements that could provide major efficiencies in the value chain, the produce industry has often taken mindless actions in the past.
However, with consumers finally taking an organized stand on these issues, change is in the air. While it will certainly take time to undo decades of morally questionable actions by corporate giants, the public boycotting of brands and products that don’t align with their mindful values is a strong start.
This is mindfulness at its most powerful: a force for change that pushes companies to get real about how their food is sourced and made. We are not even halfway through 2018, and we’ve seen through the astronomical rise of products. Take koia, for example. In the surge of popular protein drinks, koia delivers a low-sugar, high protein plant-based protein drink that is ethically responsible, tasty, and nutritious. Consumers want food that is natural, whole, and responsibly sourced, and koia is just one example of how this mindful approach is working.
On the other side of the “mindful” coin is a much less organized movement. One where people are so caught up in tangential buzzwords like “cleanse,” “toxin-free,” and “non-GMO,” they quit focusing on real issues in the produce industry (which there’s no shortage of). Instead, they get scammed into buying products that are overpriced and falsely advertised, only feeding into the greedy giants that fuel corporate produce.
Even with a movement as well-intentioned as mindfulness, there is still a way in which companies find ways to capitalize on consumers’ lack of knowledge, making no real change while still making a buck.
So here’s my proposal for the mindfulness mantra of 2018:
Let’s stay honest.
Mindfulness needs a taste of its own medicine. The movement has to move away from marketing ploys to advocating for real ethical changes in the food and produce industry. People need to ask real questions before jumping on the bandwagon, and most importantly, members of the produce community need to be there with answers.
A 20+ year entrepreneur with a no-B.S.-in-business attitude, Shaun Black has powered over $30 million in annual revenue with his trading and importing company, Diamond Produce, founded numerous successful local businesses, and remained on the cutting edge of national start-up industries for over a decade.
His experience as a grocer taught him the importance of exceeding expectations, one relationship at a time. Through systems, automation, and personal touch, his businesses deliver consistent retail-minded service. His “add value” approach to vendor and teams alike has paid dividends and been the driving force behind growth and profit.