Conversations That Matter: How social media has upended food marketing

Social media gives food consumers direct access to producers

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According to Sylvain Charlebois, one of the most important changes in the food supply network is social media.

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“Consumers finally have a voice and they’re using it,” he said. “They’re talking a lot about food and where to buy it.”

In the past, the food relationship was a push from manufacturer to grocer and then to consumer.

“Now it’s a pull in the other direction. And this, in essence, is putting tremendous pressure on the food industry in Canada.”

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Charlebois says it’s democratizing the supply chain and it’s giving everyone a chance to establish direct relationships between producers and consumers. A

“Big-name producers like PepsiCo, Kraft Heinz, Gordon Food Services, and Sysco — to name but a few — are now selling directly to consumers.”

This shift in the relationship is also introducing food choices that didn’t exist before, and that’s because small or specialized producers couldn’t access the market. Charlebois, who consults with food startup companies, says, “You will now see more and more small specialized producers connecting online with consumers and offering them a wider range of products.”

Stuart McNish invited food specialist Sylvain Charlebois of Dalhousie University to join him for a Conversation That Matters, Food For Thought episode, about the dramatic changes underway in food production and supply thanks to consumer empowerment.

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