‘Feeding the world’ message doesn’t resonate with most consumers

Dr. Jayson Lusk


Purdue ag economist Jayson Lusk says the message of feeding nine-billion people by 2050 helps motivate farmers but it’s not very effective in connecting with consumers.

“It is true we need to feed the world and we will have growing world population,” says Lusk. “But it’s not a message that is probably going to appeal to the average middle- to upper middle-class food consumer

That’s because “feeding the world” isn’t a major concern for most consumers, Lusk says.

“Where that population growth is going to occur is places like Africa and developing countries,” Lusk says. “But if you look at population trends in the developed world—if you look at 50 years—actually population may decline in countries like the United States and Western Europe. So when you tell people, ‘well, we’ve got to grow more food because we’re having a growing world population’, they look around and they don’t see it.”

Lusk says most consumers are more concerned with their own everyday food issues such as price, safety, nutrition and taste.

“So thinking about the way we communicate inside agriculture is one thing, but we might need a different kind of message to communicate with folks outside our community,” he says.

Lusk spoke with Brownfield last week at the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) Award breakfast as part of World Food Prize event in Des Moines, where Lusk received the annual Borlaug CAST Communication Award.

AUDIO: Jayson Lusk

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