Navigating the Future of Food Marketing: A Deep Dig with Ali Cox

Ali Cox talks about food marketing and impact on farmers

I’m a fifth-generation farmer, and after working in New York City in a more fast-paced environment, I decided I wanted to focus on the kind of marketing that really will impact not only my family’s trajectory to continue farming but also this industry.

Ali Cox on why she focuses on food marketing

In this insightful episode of EnvironMental with Dandelion, we were thrilled to welcome Ali Cox, the founder and CEO of Noble West. Noble West is a specialized marketing agency with a deep commitment to the agricultural and food sectors.

Our conversation explored the pivotal role of sustainability in food marketing, the challenges and opportunities within our food systems, and the transformative impact that Noble West is making in promoting a more sustainable future.

From Entertainment to Agriculture: Ali Cox’s Journey

Ali’s personal narrative is compelling, transitioning from the high-energy world of entertainment marketing to a purpose-driven focus on food marketing. With her roots firmly planted in a fifth-generation farming family, Ali’s return to agriculture was driven by a desire to make a meaningful contribution to the future of food marketing, with a particular emphasis on sustainable and regenerative practices.

The Importance of Truth in Food Marketing

During our dialogue, Ali highlighted the critical need for honesty and transparency in the way we cultivate, process, and market our food.

Noble West takes pride in aiding brands within the agriculture and food industry to narrate their true stories. This mission has become increasingly vital as consumers demand greater insight into the food they consume and its broader impact.

The Challenges of Large-Scale Agriculture

While no one is debating that the agriculture industry has a massive carbon footprint, the environmental onus is consistently pushed onto farmers. And oftentimes, extra burdens are placed on them without extra support. The reality is that not all farmers are positioned equally. Many operate under contracts that impose stringent regulations and market demands already.

And here, we start to feel the broken-ness of our system. In this world where heads of ag business are making literal billions, farmers have serious financial hurdles even without the focus on sustainability.

They’re dealing with high expectations of production along with falling crop prices and new policies. Without consumer backing for brands that champion sustainability and ethical practices, it often doesn’t make financial sense for them to invest in the technology, resources, or the time and energy to transition their farms to organic or regenerative.

“We need to make it financially viable for farmers to operate in a way that aligns with some of our environmental and ethical sort of goals for the climate.”

– Ali Cox, Founder of Noble West

This left us feeling frustrated right along with Ali. Farmers, for the most part, are stewards of their land. Have things gotten off course with our ag sector? Yes. But people are so fast to blame the farmer, rather than examine our expectations for cheap food. Or question the agriculture business tycoons seeing record profits while their farmers suffer under the weight of financial burden.

How do we change this? It starts with Education!

Educating Consumers: The Key to Sustainable Change in Food Marketing

Ali spoke fervently about the necessity of consumer education in fostering value-driven choices in food marketing.

“Once we understand where we spend our money and the values we believe in, we can make a difference, but it’s about being an educated consumer and making those value-driven decisions.”

– Ali Cox, Founder of Noble West

People choose their food based on taste, cost, and convenience. Sustainability is a great tie breaker, but not really a decision maker.

So while brands like Patagonia Provisions are vital, consumer willingness to invest in sustainable options is essential for real change. And people are loyal to their favorite food brands. They typically don’t deviate from their staple foods/brands for environmental reasons. This means that we need buy-in

PSA: while consumer demand is typically only viewed as ‘voting with our dollars” we can also demand that farmers’ contracts are fair from the brands BEFORE they start planting. We can demand that our favorite brands prove their dedication ESG – because we can’t only rely on our farmers to make these changes for us.

Using Food Marketing to Support Local and Regenerative Farms

Being an active supporter is crucial for driving sustainable progress! Ali provided actionable suggestions for how consumers can support local and regenerative farms through food marketing on your own!

  • purchasing their products
  • advocating for them in your community
  • engaging and sharing their social media
  • subscribing to newsletters
  • considering their offerings for gifts.

And of course, sharing your own farmer stories with their marketing team! And speaking of, here’s how you can get in touch with Ali and Noble West:


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