John L. Stanton
Professor, Haub School of Business, St. Joseph University
Dr. John L. Stanton received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University in 1973 and has been involved with marketing problems in the food industry since graduation. He is currently Professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. From 1985 to 1994 Dr. Stanton held the C.J. McNutt Chair of Food Marketing Research at Saint Joseph’s University.
Dr. Stanton has lectured at meetings of many food and non-food associations and conferences in the United States and in several foreign countries including Russia, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico and Ireland. He has appeared in nationally televised shows and is frequently quoted in food marketing magazines and the popular press. He writes a monthly column in the trade magazine Food Processing and has published numerous articles in other trade magazines. Dr. Stanton has published six books of which the latest is “Stanton on Food Marketing.” One of his earlier books (“Making Niche Marketing Work”) was selected for the Business Week Book Club and later published in six foreign languages. His research on nutrition of breakfasts has been published in technical journals such as Science, Journal of Clinical Nutrition and others.
In addition to his academic responsibilities on the staff of Saint Joseph’s University, Dr. Stanton has served as a marketing consultant for major domestic food companies including Campbell Soup Company, Proctor and Gamble, Frito Lay, and Kellogg as well as companies in Eastern Europe.
A number of social, technical and demographic changes have taken place in the United States that have profoundly altered ways in which foods are prepared, consumed and evaluated at time of purchase. These changes are gradually being recognized by food processors and retailers and new products are being offered to meet the emerging needs. New products designed for convenience are generally more expensive than conventional products but their wide acceptance demonstrates that convenience is an attribute that improves value and warrants even greater consideration. Unfortunately most farmers remain almost exclusively focused on the concept of producing food products at lower cost.
The huge movement of women into the work force has left them less time to plan and prepare meals. Food products that offer convenience in planning, preparation or consumption have become very attractive even though more costly than conventional food products. Forty two percent of new food products introduced in the year 2000 were classified as “convenience foods”. One survey found that 69 percent of the people surveyed ate while driving. This practice, described as “dash board dining” illustrates an emerging demand for special products. The immigration of large numbers of people from Latin America and Asia has created a demand for foods heretofore considered exotic. The United States has become the fifth largest Spanish speaking country in the world and this development has created a demand for foods with which these people are familiar. The life span of our population has steadily increased because of better medical practices. The resultant increase in the percentage of older people has created a demand for foods that appeal to this group.
Technology has enabled food processors and retailers to meet some changing demands. Technology has made it possible to develop better transportation facilities and practices. This has resulted in a constant supply of many fruits and vegetables from distant sources. Many of these products were formerly only available seasonally. Examples of new food products designed primarily for convenience are (a) packaged, mixed salad ingredients that require no preparation and can be stored as long as individual fresh ingredients, (b) frozen, pre-mixed meats and vegetables that can be quickly prepared in a skillet and seasoned to taste, (c) frozen, prepared, pre-cut, pre-cooked potato products, and (d) prepared soups, packaged in microwaveable containers from which the product is intended to be consumed.
Farmers need to recognize that marketing has become more than simply offering for sale the products they prefer to grow. Good modern marketing practices stress the need for production and sale of products people want to buy. An appropriate modern farm marketing strategy that contributes to convenience might involve (a) production of certain exotic fruits and vegetable desired by recent immigrants, (b) production of crops that meet “organic” specifications, (c) minor preparation such as washing and pre-packaging vegetables or (d) labeling products with the name of the grower in an effort to establish a closer grower-consumer relationship. Selling prices can be increased to profitable levels by adding value to the product. For example, carrots normally sold by farmers at $0.15 per pound and retailed at $0.44 per pound have been retailed at $1.69 per pound when washed, peeled and packaged or at $3.00 per pound when washed, peeled, cut into sticks and packaged for consumption raw.
Surveys have shown that the American public holds farmers in high regard. The manner in which many farm products are sold does little to promote farmers or the essential role that agriculture plays in providing the plentiful, wholesome and dependable food supply our country enjoys. The marketing strategy for many United States farms needs to include more serious consideration to ways to add value to the products being sold and in this manner improve farm profitability. Although this marketing strategy is simple, it is not easy to apply.
In an effort to provide wide-ranging views and perspectives regarding the practice of and issues surrounding agriculture, the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture (PSPA) seeks speakers representing a variety of perspectives. The statements and opinions they present are strictly their own and do not necessarily represent the views of PSPA.