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'The 2 Cows' Letting Customers Know Exactly What They're Eating

Rough translation: "Know what you're eating: We trace all of our ingredients — we're not telling you that we are perfect, but what we are doing." | Image credit: Les 2 Vaches

With its "Know what you eat" website, French organic yogurt brand The 2 Cows (Stonyfield France) is demonstrating commendable transparency regarding the composition of its products and traceability of its ingredients. It also presents its continuous improvement on the different sectors as well as challenges still to be addressed in the coming years.

Certainly, The 2 Cows has many strengths:

  1. Its products taste good. (the basics!).
  2. It is firmly committed to being more transparent in a meaningful and fun way (as explained by its CEO in this interview, in French).
  3. The brand does not hesitate to communicate in a transparent and honest manner, with a touch of humor, its commitments towards sustainability (example: its 2013 campaign on animal welfare).

Consumers want to know what they're eating

According to recent surveys, 89 percent of French consumers state it is essential for them to better understand what are their products are made of, and 60 percent find that there is insufficient information.

“There was a need for a tool to explain our approach and explain the origin of our ingredients,” says Daniel Tirat, The 2 Cows’ general manager.

The website Savoircequonmange.com ("Know What You Eat"), launched February 28th, reveals an impressive amount of data about the nature of the company's ingredients and their origins, along with information about the sustainability commitments, choices and challenges lying ahead:

  • The detailed composition of dairy products: For each product, the list of ingredients and their proportion are presented, including those present in small quantities and which are often hidden (such as milk powder, fiber, starch, carrageenan...).
  • Geographic location of all ingredients: An interactive map lets you know the geographical origin of each ingredient: sugarcane from Brazil, 80 percent of the milk from Normandy in France, vanilla flavor from Germany, etc. The map also shows the different storage areas or workmanship as the storage of sugar cane in Normandy, the development of the preparation strawberry mixed in the Paris Region...
  • Explanation of the nature and role of each ingredient: Why Brazil to source organic sugar cane? Why add milk powder and starch? What is Xanthan gum? The site provides clear answers to inform consumers about the yogurt’s composition and the role of each ingredient. In addition, the company's commitments are detailed, starting with the conditions of breeding, feeding dairy cows, etc.
  • The challenges ahead: The brand also communicates openly about the challenges that lay ahead:
    • To ensure that 100 percent of its organic milk comes from Normandy
    • To buy milk powder from a factory closer to Normandy (currently in Germany)
    • To publish data about packaging sources, etc.

    An innovative and courageous approach

    This approach is courageous for the brand. Indeed, it gives a little dizzy at the number of ingredients in each pot of yogurt and the kilometers each travels, though this is relatively minor compared with conventional food products.

    Also, explaining that you add a non-organic seaweed extract, sourced from the other side of the world, to thicken the preparation of the custard is a bold revelation to make to sustainability-conscious consumers.

    Having such traceability of the ingredients and agreeing to deliver the data to the public is a first for a French food brand. In another sector, textile for example, Patagonia publishes a map of all its suppliers (surely there are other examples, but they are still rare).

    The launch of the "Know what you eat" website clearly puts The 2 Cows among the most advanced food brands in terms of responsibility and CSR communication. The statement: "We’re not telling you we are perfect, but what we're doing!" perfectly illustrates this bold and thoughtful positioning.

    For more examples of how organizations are using #Communications to share their values with consumers, check out our editorial channel.

Mathieu Jahnich is a strategic communications and marketing consultant based in Paris, France.

After earning a PhD in science and environmental communication, he spent ten years within various research institutes and the French ministry of ecology, first as a researcher then as… [Read more about Mathieu Jahnich]


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