Dairy Australia plans to target an influential group of consumers to address declining trust in the industry.
DA’s group manager communications and marketing Kendra Campbell told the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria conference on Friday, trust in every aspect of the world was in question.
But there had been a shift back to people trusting subject-matter experts such as scientists and facts over opinions.
People were seeking more depth of information and seeking validation for the opinions they held.
Trust could be impacted by ‘big bang’ issues – for example the live export industry crisis or the greyhound industry revelations – or it could be slowly eroded by the “drip, drip, drip” campaigns of detractors such as vegan activists.
Ms Campbell said DA planned to become a trusted source of information for consumers.
"We need to shift our focus to trust, trust is in decline," she said.
Its research showed consumer perceptions of dairy’s value to nutrition and how farmers cared for their animals and the environment were in decline.
And although per capita consumption of dairy was steady, people perceived they were eating less dairy.
Building trust would allow the dairy industry to maintain its social licence – the ongoing approval and acceptance of the industry.
Ms Campbell warned that the industry needed to “mind the gap” between consumer expectations and knowledge of the industry.
DA research revealed 53 per cent of consumers said they did not know how milk was produced
Ms Campbell said new research by DA had identified an influential groups of consumers.
These ‘Changemakers’ made up 46 per cent of the population and had a high desire to make change and were open to seeking and receiving information.
Dairy Australia wanted to be honest and truthful with these consumers.
It planned to “lean into the harder issues” to explain farm practices and the reasons for them.
It would share health facts and talk passionately about farmers.
Ms Campbell said DA planned to provide balance in debates with its detractors.
It was vital to talk about the difficult issues, otherwise the industry risked allowing the detractors to tell its story.
But there was no point in going head to head with detractors, she said.
Farmers had an important role to play in this.
This needed a whole-of-industry approach, and farmers could play a part through social media, videos, dialogue with consumers and connecting with local media.