Organic produce consumers are particularly active in communicating their dietary preferences, and growers, shippers and marketers are responding.
One example is Plant City, Fla.-based strawberry and blueberry grower-shipper Wish Farms, which operates its own patented consumer-feedback and traceability system, FreshQC How’s My Picking.
The idea is to listen and respond quickly to consumers, said Amber Kosinsky, Wish Farms’ marketing director.
Thousands of people from across the nation submit surveys telling about their experience, good or bad, and make suggestions to the company.
Responding to requests
A common theme in these responses has been a request for more organic product, and the company has responded, Kosinsky said.
“The feedback we receive through our FreshQC How’s My Picking program is invaluable to us,” she said.
Wish Farms expects to ship 20% more organic strawberries in 2013 than in 2012 and will double its organic blueberry volume, thanks, in large part, to requests lodged through FreshQC How’s My Picking, said J.C. Clincard, Wish Farms’ vice president of grower relations.
By opening a feedback network, Wish Farms has found not only a way to connect with consumers and learn more about their needs, but also an important tool for accountability within the organization, Kosinsky said.
It’s also peace of mind of consumers who want to know exactly where their fruit originated and how it was handled at each step, she said.
“Every package has a different number that traces back to the picker,” she said.
A website, www.howsmypicking.com, provides information and a video that lays out the process and provides a link between consumers and growers and invites consumers to get involved in the process, Kosinsky said.
“We do personally respond to every single person that e-mails us, whether good or bad,” she said.
If product doesn’t meet consumer expectations, reimbursement is available, Kosinsky said.
“If they rank us a 6 or below, they look to reimburse them for a gift card to the retailer they frequently visit or submit them for a reimbursement check,” she said.
There are other ways of reaching out to consumers.
Watsonville, Calif.-based Lakeside Organic Gardens has a Web mail system that allows consumers to contact the company via e-mail, said sales manager Brian Peixoto.
It may come as a surprise how often consumers contact the company directly, Peixoto said.