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Future Food: Jennifer Betka on How Consumer Signals Influence Her Work as CMO of Indigo Agriculture

July 4, 2019

In this episode of Future Food, I speak to Jennifer Betka, the chief marketing officer of Indigo Agriculture, the Boston-based agtech startup that’s one of the highest valued in the industry today.

Jennifer is an expert marketer with a career spanning many different industries outside of agriculture, most recently at StubHub the event ticketing business, so it’s really interesting to hear about her transition into this industry.

Jennifer does a great job explaining the work of Indigo that has transformed from a seed technology to a full service for farmers and a supplier of sustainable ingredients for food companies. And she talks about her marketing strategy.

“When I look at our brand, I think it’s a really curious brand that’s asking really important questions,” she said giving an example of research she’s doing into consumer signals. “If growers can be incentivized to put carbon back into the soil, do consumers care?”

(Indigo recently launched the Terraton Initiative focused on incentivizing carbon sequestration through regenerative agriculture practices, so the results must have been promising.)

We also discuss Indigo’s deal with beer maker Anheuser-Busch and how it underlines a paradigm shift in how consumer-focused companies are managing their businesses for sustainable outcomes.

“Isn’t is exciting that I see a billboard today that’s marketing beer for what’s not in it, like corn syrup, but also for the practices that went into its manufacture, practices that align that with your belief system? This will show up elsewhere like how we market our clothes but also food more broadly. I think AB InBev is ahead of the curve on that and I’m proud of the work they’re doing to sustainably produce beer.”

We talk about the divide that still exists between consumers’ understanding and engagement with their food but not with agriculture and how its sourced. And that even those that want to vote with their dollars in support of sustainable agricultural practices and healthier food choices find it challenging.

“We’ve heard from consumers that they really want to understand how to direct their dollars, but it’s hard. It’s almost that a consumer that is motivated to vote with their dollars has to hack that together how they do that – we’ve heard of consumers have spreadsheets where they’re tracking what they’re doing in their behavior and putting their dollars and how they’re shopping but there’s no one way that’s connecting that today for consumers. there’s a whole generation growing up that thinks their food comes from the grocery store; the concept of their cereal being made from wheat doesn’t resonate.”

And Jennifer shares her own food preferences including the hot or not round: sneak peek, she is not a fan of robotic retail!

This episode is full of interesting insights from Jennifer,  who is very thoughtful about her work and her role. I hope you enjoy it.

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