Thinking about next year’s product marketing? Can I suggest an ingredient-driven message?

I wish I shared this insight with you last year after Prepared Foods’ 2016 New Products Conference (NPC). However, it takes time for seeds of an idea to take root and grow. Last year’s NPC theme was “Disruptive Innovation” and one speaker was Paul Nardone, CEO at BFY Brands, the Liberty, N.Y., parent to Our Little Rebellion PopCorners snacks.

Nardone spoke in September 2016 and shared BFY’s disruptive new ad—debuting the next month—which showcased a Beaver Crossing, Neb., non-GMO corn field. It was a dedicated, 8.5-acre crop art project with Little Rebellion’s logo, the PopCorners website, a non-GMO Project Verified symbol and the words: “Join the Corn Revolution.”

The crop art was created in a field owned and operated by family farmer Jim McGowen, one of 59 non-GMO small-scale farms that collectively supply 20 million pounds of corn used in Our Little Rebellion’s supply chain. PopCorners’ website then shared information about the Non-GMO Project, as well as a video about the farmer.

Interestingly enough, this year’s NPC event in Denver featured Tina Owens, senior manager, Sustainability & Procurement for Kellogg’s Kashi brand. Owens spoke about how organic ingredient demand has dramatically outpaced supply and she said Kashi partnered in 2015 with Quality Assurance International (QAI) to create “Certified Transitional.” It’s a protocol to pay farmers slightly higher prices for their crops—in transition from conventional crops to organic—during a three-year period. 

In 2016, Kashi purchased the first-ever crop of Certified Transitional ingredients—hard red winter wheat—sourced from 860 acres of transitional farmland. It was used for the brand’s non-organic Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits. This year, Kashi came back with Chewy Nut Butter Bars, which showcase other transitional ingredients including almonds, dates and sorghum. 

After three full growing seasons (2015-2017), Owens says Kashi’s Certified Transitional products now are sourced from more than 5,700 acres that are transitioning to organic. It more than quadruples the company’s first-year acreage by a 663% increase. In total, there now are 14 farms supplying Certified Transitional ingredients located in California, Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Meanwhile, Kashi takes its Certified Transitional message directly to consumers in redesigned packages—some that feature participating farmers such as Newton Russell (pictured), one of two who piloted the Certified Transitional protocol and grew the wheat featured in the first batch of Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits.

In both cases, I’m impressed with how Kashi and BFY/Our Little Rebellion break through marketing clutter with new, farm-driven messages that put ingredients first.