The Consumer Brand: FAQ

All you have to know

Frequently asked questions

What is the “The Consumer Brand” initiative and what are its objectives?

The Consumer Brand is an initiative. It derives from the fact that we as the consumer no longer wish to purchase and consume products without knowing what kind of impact they are having on the world around us. We want to know what the social, economic and environmental implications are of our purchases. We want to know what the content of our food is, and we want to know how the various stakeholders along the food production chain are compensated. We want to spend our money on specifics that are important to us, whilst also considering the environment and its future. Lastly, we want to make sure that the commitments our partners have made in order to produce products that fit our criteria have been taken seriously. We will hold our partners accountable and reward them well.

How did this initiative come about, who started it, and how does it work elsewhere? Why is it being implemented in UK?

This initiative started in France and is known as “C’est qui le patron?” (“Who’s the boss?”) French consumers have welcomed the initiative with open arms and are very active and engaged. The initiative has helped hundreds of farmers and their families out of complex financial situations. The initiative was able to gain momentum at a time of an uncertain economic and social climate by re-establishing the transparency between farmers, processors, retailers and consumers.

The initiative is based on a variety of values: respect, transparency, accountability and commitment. We believe that there is space for such an initiative in the UK market as people become more conscious of what they consume, both for health and environmental reasons.

How many Farmers currently market their milk production under CQLP (‘C’est qui le patron?’)? What volume of milk is sold by CQLP, what market share do they have?

In France, more than 300 farming families are committed to the initiative and they have produced more than 100 million litres of milk last calendar year. CQLP milk represents around 3% of the semi-skimmed milk market share, only 2 years after entering the market. The initiative started in France with milk and has since grown to offer a range of over 30 other products.

Regarding the traditional market supply chain, there are four fundamental stakeholders: the producer, the manufacturer, the retailer and the consumer. How will the role of each one change with the introduction of your initiative?

With our initiative, the stakeholders remain the same, each one stays in their respective role, complementing the others in their respective roles. Our task is to make sure that the process is transparent, fair and sincere. We enable our consumers to be part of each step in the process. We hope that this ability to give input as well as the guaranteed transparency will create trust and respect between all involved parties.

You state that the consumers decide what they want to buy and at what price as well as where they want their money to go. However, based on the information and guidelines you are providing, how can this be done?

When we put forward a questionnaire to the consumer, it is important for us to understand and consider the entire context of said production cycle, we must be aware of qualitative, economic, environmental and social aspects. We will do this by meeting with all stakeholders and identifying their constraints, knowhow, and ability to improve each aspect of production. After such meetings have taken place, we would put forward a list of 10 themes that will have an impact of the final pricing of the product, allowing our consumers to choose what is important to them and see how their priorities will impact the final price.

In addition to the questionnaire, we will facilitate the flow of information between farmer and consumer by providing additional material, explaining the aspects of the production cycle from farmer all the way through to the store shelves. We want to engage our consumers and use this form of transparency to help them to decide what fair compensation our farmers should be receiving. However, we not only want to compensate farmers fairly, we also want our farmers to be able to comply with high animal welfare and environmental standards. Our consumers are instrumental in the decisions of farmers to become more sustainable, as well as supporting the use of the traditional knowhow, which is at risk of disappearing today.

Finally, our consumers who do purchase The Consumer Brand goods will not only be showing and encouraging good will, they will be buying into a story and contributing to a global vision based on values such as fairness, transparency and respect.

 

The key to your success will be consumer participation in order to get a better reward for the farmer. However, for the system to work, it is necessary to add the processors and retailers: what is your argumentation to convince them to join the project?

It is essential to understand that taking on a new challenge is all about conviction, we are aware of the risk and excitement that can arise from this. In order to generate excitement and buzz, we sometimes must do things in an “out of the box” manner and remove ourselves from our comfort zone. One of our priorities when meeting potential partners is to understand that they share a similar goal and mindset of helping farmers and providing a good product to the consumers. We have a lot of respect for those who take on our initiative and choose to be our partners because we are aware of the risk that they are taking. However, we strongly believe that the risk is worth the reward.

With whom will the farmers sign a contract and who is responsible for paying them?

The processor will negotiate with the farmers on behalf of TCB and sign the contracts with them. TCB will have a contract with the processors, which clearly lists the requirements of the end product as well as the commitment they are taking regarding the assurance scheme which has been defined by the consumer. Therefore, it will be the processor who will pay the farmer a price that our consumers have previously committed to.

As for TCB, we will be committed to checking on the farmers, both scheduled and random, ensuring that standards are being maintained, and that they are being paid what they are owed. We intend on publishing the respective invoices on our website in order to certify that the consumers’ money is going where they intended it to go.

How can the consumer promptly check on the financial impact corresponding to their choices?

This will be facilitated through the online questionnaire that will be on our website. We will have a base fee that will alter as the consumer selects their preferences for the end product. By making the real time adjustments, TCB hopes to create a product for a realistic price that our consumers will happily pay for.

How does the consumer know that the product they have purchased and consumed has been produced whilst strictly following the guidelines and preferences selected in the questionnaire?

We organise two types of check:

  1. Technical control: we mandate an independent auditing company to visit both the producer and the manufacturer in order to check and report on the adherence to the assurance schemes, as well as to organise due product analysis.
  2. Moral control: As a member of this consumer community, you will be invited to regular organised visits to both the consumers and the producers. We hope that this will encourage lots of on-site questions from our consumers as they engage directly with the various stakeholders in the supply chain. We will also video the sessions and make them available to the people who are unable to join in, by way of our website. This transparency will allow our consumers to form their opinions and come to their own conclusions.
How will the organisation be paid?

The organisation The Consumer Brand will receive 5% of the final selling price. This money will be used to guarantee that all the processes and requirements described above are met. We will set up the supply chain, organise the audits and controls, as well as create an extremely interactive consumer community.