Regenerative Agriculture: Will it make a difference?
June 14, 2022
If you think consumers are confused by, or skeptical of, food labels such as organic, cage-free, free range and all natural, get ready for the next big thing: regenerative agriculture.
Regenerative agriculture does not have a single definition. In its simplest sense, “regenerative” refers to farming practices that improve soil health. However, unlike organic claims, this assertion is not tied to any standards and does not require verification. This may partially be because the practice is still so new.
Some farms are early adopters of this new standard and have been reaping the benefits. Consider Apricot Lane Farms, a former lifeless 214-acre farm that was reawakened by the introduction of biodiversity through regenerative methods. Apricot Lane Farm’s story of regeneration is now gaining attention through its award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary, The Biggest Little Farm.
Furthermore, this year, multinational companies, Unilever, Axa, and Tikehau Capital announced their plan to each invest 100 million euros ($104 million) into a 1 billion euro ($1.06 billion) regenerative agriculture fund, to pool resources that will support regenerative technological innovations.
Despite rising corporate interest in regenerative practices, consumers are not quite there….yet. A 2021 Food & Health study found that 42% of Americans believe their individual food and beverage consumption has a moderate to significant environmental impact. Yet, only 19% of consumers have heard of regenerative agriculture. Once the term was defined, consumers perceived it to be better for the land and to produce more nutritious foods.
Consumers are still hesitant to change their behavior, with a recent survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC), finding that among the 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 66% would buy a standard breakfast cereal over its more expensive ‘regenerative’ counterpart.
This gap in consumer understanding has not thwarted progress. The Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) has taken regenerative agriculture a step further by combining its practices with that of organic farming. Since its formation in 2017, the ROA has designed the Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) standard. To qualify for this standard, farms must be USDA organic and meet specific requirements for three pillars: soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness.
While “regenerative farming” may still be in its infancy, it may reinforce consumers’ interest in sustainability and act as a future differentiator for your brand story. As you develop your brand, think deeply about what matters to your consumer now and in the future. If you’re interested in better understanding the future of health and wellness and what role your brand could play, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Caroline is a Bentley University senior studying marketing, media and entrepreneurship. At Compass Marketing, she manages all the Social Media and Content marketing efforts in addition to assisting with business development activities.