Just One Word

 

Mr. Schweisfurth, what do you think about …

Credibility?

Illustration Anje Jager

Organic foods are traditionally viewed very critically. That’s why their producers have to strive constantly for credibility. It was the same for us in the beginning, when my father switched from traditional sausage-making to organic farming. We no longer wanted to have to lie about the origin and production of our food products, but instead wanted to be able to present them with a clear conscience. Many consumers are worried. They often don’t believe that the meat, eggs or vegetables labeled as organic actually meet the standards for quality that they demand.

The official seals for organic quality are much more reliable than some reports say. It is a criminal offense for companies to wrongly label food as organic. And there are regular inspections for compliance with the regulations. It’s therefore a fairly reliable and trustworthy system. That’s why, as an organic farmer, I can speak for my entire sector when I say: if it’s labeled organic, it is organic.

It’s very important to us that all of our customers can really trust all the foods we offer. Only then are they also willing to pay the price, which is often a bit higher than for other foods because of the more complicated production process. That’s why we don’t rely solely on the organic seal, but instead do a lot more to guarantee our credibility as a producer of organic and artisanal foodstuffs. For example, we list absolutely everything that is in a product on our ingredients lists, even if an additive is below the prescribed threshold. That’s how consumers know exactly what they’re buying.

It’s very important to us that all of our customers can really trust all the foods we offer. Only then are they also willing to pay the price, which is often a bit higher than for other foods because of the more complicated production process. That’s why we don’t rely solely on the organic seal, but instead do a lot more to guarantee our credibility as a produ­cer of organic and artisanal foodstuffs. For example, we list absolutely everything that is in a product on our ingredients lists, even if an additive is below the prescribed threshold. That’s how consumers know exactly what they’re buying.

Furthermore, we focus on transparency. Our customers can take a look behind the scenes everywhere. We offer tours of our farm, bakery, butcher’s shop, cheese dairy, brewery and coffee roaster. All of our customers can assure themselves as to whether our animals are naturally raised, our fields carefully and sustainably cultivated and our foods processed in an unadulterated manner. This creates credibil­ity. Visitors can even watch an animal being slaughtered as gently as possible. Although the killing of an animal is naturally not a pretty sight. However I do recommend that everyone who eats meat should attend a slaughter at least once. So that they know what it means.

Our customers should get to know us as people. While organic seals are reliable and necessary, credibility is even stronger when it develops through contact with people that you trust. And one more thing: it’s not enough for customers to be able to trust in the organic quality of the food. They have to be able to taste it as well.


Karl Schweisfurth, 59, is an organic farmer from Bavaria. He and his family are the second and third generation to run the Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten—the Herrmannsdorf Country Workshops. His father, Karl Ludwig Schweisfurth, was the CEO of Herta Foods, Europe’s largest frankfurter manufactory. He sold the company in the 1980s and then became a pioneer in organic food production.