Unified Voice Protocol

Background on the Unified Voice Protocol

A variety of factors—including shifting science and research, misleading public information campaigns, and evolving consumer preferences—are creating shocks in the food sector, leading to an increasingly fractured system that often lacks a uniform approach and message on big issues. The Unified Voice is FMI’s effort to establish a framework to proactively create an environment of trust in the food and consumer goods industries, so that consumers can purchase products they desire with full confidence in those who provide them. 

Unified Voice Protocol Pilot Project I Research Reports

Egg Survey Report   Broiler Survey Report 

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Infographic

Unified Voice Protocol for proactive action includes:

  • Identify and prioritize significant emerging health and social issues of concern to consumers and the industry,
  • Bring together different parts of the food environment to address the priority issues.  Depending on the issue, the coalition could include food retailers, consumer groups, researchers, public health professionals and farmers
  • Analyze and produce trusted research and data; and  
  • Using the findings from the research and data collection, conduct outreach and education to harness the food environment’s unified voice, helping to impact the public conversation and influence current and future issues.

1. Unified Voice Issue Prioritization 

Through the Unified Voice effort, issues would be identified and prioritized related to these areas: 

  • Health and Wellness: nutrition, family health and well being, and ingredient issues 
  • Food Safety: short- and long-term safety concerns 
  • Social Impact: sustainability, animal welfare, fair treatment of employees, sustainable sourcing  

2. Unified Voice Issue Coalitions/Project Collaborators 

FMI research shows that when it comes to questions about health and wellness, consumers’ most trusted allies are family and friends, healthcare professionals, farmers, and their local grocery store or food retail establishment. The UV will consolidate these consumer allies by forming small coalitions to address each priority issue and to uncover additional emerging health and social concerns for future consideration.  Each coalition will set goals, support research and data collection, develop proactive engagement and communications strategies, and participate in outreach and education to proactively address the issue.  

3. Unified Voice Research Focus 

Approaches to data review and collection would be issue specific and recommended and funded by the issue coalition.

4. Unified Voice Outreach and Education

Establish thought leadership events to share the findings from the data collection and research.  Key stakeholders could include media, researchers, consumer groups, public health professionals, and food and agriculture experts. 

Unified Voice Protocol Pilot Project I

For its first pilot project, FMI is testing the Unified Voice Protocol by addressing two current animal welfare issues, cage-free eggs and slow-growing broilers.  As agricultural producers and agribusinesses seek to respond to consumer and advocacy organization demands for alternative production practices, there is a need to better understand consumer knowledge and beliefs and their willingness-to-pay for these attributes 

A research coalition was formed with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Animal Agriculture Alliance to conduct a behavioral economics assessment. This study focuses on these two poultry-related issues that entail tradeoffs between animal welfare and productivity. Research will be conducted by Jayson Lusk, PhD, of Purdue University. Dr. Lusk fielded the research in the Fall of 2017.  You can find the research by clicking here:

FMI Foundation will work with FFAR, Animal Ag Alliance and Dr. Lusk to develop two thought leadership events where the research results can be discussed. The first event will be held in the Washington, DC area for the food and agriculture audience. The second event will be held outside of Washington (possibly Purdue University) to reach a broader audience to include media, researchers, consumer groups, public health professionals, and food and agriculture experts. 

Unified Voice Protocol Next Steps

The FMI Foundation is interested in engaging with organizations in the food, agriculture, public health, and research spaces who share our goal to create an environment of trust in the food and consumer goods industries through this Unified Voice effort. Organizations interested in partnering with the FMI Foundation to determine suitable emerging issues and to design and fund research programs should contact FMI Foundation Executive Director Susan Borra or David Fikes, Vice President, Communications & Consumer/Community Affairs at foundation@fmi.org.