That sage statement made over 50 years ago rings truer today as entities attempt to protect market share by appeasing subjective ideals, activists and a customer base that feels compelled to show more concern than their competitor.
Today California Citrus Mutual can document 18 audits that suppliers are asked to comply with. No two are alike.
Today we are witnessing a growing demand by customers challenging a supplier’s sustainability, food safety and social conscious practices. Direct communications are made seeking individual evaluations as if sound business practices don’t dictate a daily evaluation.
This is all the more remarkable when the vast majority of producers are second-, third- or even fourth-generation farmers working the same land that previous generations developed to create a bountiful, affordable food supply.
Contrast that with the constant change that occurs at the retail level with consolidation, personnel changes, closings and market share reductions.
Professing concern is a clever marketing strategy. It means that you care and care more than the next guy. You are so caring that your operation base never incurs the same level of scrutiny.
The consequences of projecting these concerns, regardless of whether genuine or not, are unnecessary costs, more duplication, and undocumented improvements, all of which fall on dedicated producers who have created the safest, most productive food system in the world.
By design the cost of projecting this concern and redundant programs is underwritten by the less powerful and less wealthy and those captive to a perishable product to sell annually.
A further irony is that whatever is asked for today will never be enough tomorrow. Not all of this is consumer driven.
It is motivated by a desire to placate activists who energize CEOs even farther removed from the field or shareholders who want to be on the cutting edge of concern.
It’s nice for those in urban centers to determine how best to farm in rural areas. It is a luxury they want and assume others need to do.
There are subjective programs created by and audited by individuals or entities with a conflict of interest.
If activists ever concur that enough is enough, then they are obligated to be satisfied. Once satisfied they are no longer activists — and, worse yet, no longer employed.