and fiber. If a person understands what the seal means,
when that person is at Target looking at buying organic
cotton sheets versus a polyester blend, the consumer understands that there is added value when they buy organic.
OP: What will it take to get this project rolling?
Bushway: As mentioned before, first the industry will vote
on whether they want a research and promotion program
and it has to be a majority vote. Only those that are eligible
can vote. Eligibility is something that the industry will de-
termine. One of the things that we know is that we don’t
want to impose any more financial burden on farmers.
Also with research and promotion orders, there’s often a
level of exemption for smaller companies.
What Can We Learn from U.K.’s Marketing
In 2011, the U.K. launched a voluntary national organic
OP: What led to the launch of the
marketing campaign. While this differs from the proposed
program for the U.S., we can gain some interesting insights
via their experience. Huw Bowles, the former chairperson
of the U.K.’s Organic Trade
Board, shares his experience
with this program—the suc-
cesses and the challenges.
program in the U.K.?
Bowles: Unfortunately, in the
U.K., 2011 was the third year
of decline in organic sales,
year-on-year; down 20–25 per-
cent from our high in 2008,
which was over 2 billion
pounds. We could see that the
tide was turning pretty quickly.
We had done fairly well with
PR and the feel-good factor of
organic, which hadn’t really
cost much and all organic companies had been able to
ride on this positive current.
But the sentiment changed with the recession, and no
matter how good your PR story was, we were finding that editors or journalists were putting a killer line at the end, saying
that it was overpriced or lacked real benefits. In the U.K., we
fall between the strong support of other European countries
from governments and consumers for natural and organic
and the U.S. where organic has a greater point of difference
with conventional foods produced on feedlots with genetically modified foods and growth hormones. With neither
strong public awareness of industrial agriculture or strong
political support, we needed to come together to explain the
benefits to consumers and individual companies speaking on
their own wasn’t getting through.
A demonstration of the strong support for organic in
former chairperson of the
U.K.’s Organic Trade Board,
and COO of organic dairy
the EU is that there is a fund of money available from the
EU to promote food and farming and most countries in
the EU had
promote organic in their
the U.K., despite attempts
never managed to tap
match funding in other
central or regional government or
this was denied in the
U.K., so we
had to turn to private company donations. We’ve got a
total of 90 companies giving voluntary donations for a
three-year program totaling £1 million, which with the EU
match funding produces a £ 2 million marketing campaign
over the three years.
One of the magazine ads from the U.K.’s
“Why I Love Organic” campaign.
OP: How has the program progressed?
Bowles: The first adverts were launched in January 2011
using an outside-back-cover-only strategy in women’s maga-