Earlier this year the Food Ethics Council sent out a stakeholder survey questionnaire to our contacts, to find out what we are doing well and where we could do even better. We’re very grateful to everyone who took part in our survey, which gave us some excellent insight into how we’re perceived and the effectiveness of our work. Here we’ve summarised what you told us and how we’re going to take your advice forward.

Everyone agreed that we are good at communicating what we do, and that our reports and blogs are well read and enjoyed. You told us that you particularly value face to face contact with us, and find us excellent at giving impartial advice on difficult issues around food and farming.

Communication

Our website was widely seen as easily navigable and had interesting content. But your feedback showed that we could make the website even better by adding video; improving the search facility; commissioning more blogs about current issues; including links to other organisations; and providing easily accessible facts and figures (perhaps using infographics). We’ll take these suggestions on board as we go into 2016.

You told us that we could work harder on raising our profile, particularly when it comes to talking about our work, both in the media and amongst our business and civil society audiences. It was suggested that we could create podcasts to talk about our work, make sure our key messages are impactful and taking a more global perspective. We agree with that analysis, and we’re working hard to improve our communications.

What we do

The words and phrases trusted, impartial, bringing together, highlighting ethics, challenging were used many times in describing what we do well, and what’s valuable about our work.

We found that the vast majority of you think it is really important for us to be honest brokers, provide impartial advice, stand up for ethical principles and provide high quality research and analysis.  You said you’d like us to provide more ethical tools and training – something we are already working on with a sub group of Food Ethics Council members.

We were really pleased to see that our own strategic focus of navigating through and transforming the context of the food system was reflected in what you thought we ought to be doing. You told us we should:

  • Be the ‘go to’ organisation for unbiased information about food systems issues
  • Be independent conveners/facilitators to open up debate on issues and help reach consensus  and/or change
  • Stand up for ethics

It was suggested that we could reach out to the general public more, and help influence government by teaming up with other organisations, which we are already doing through the Square Meal alliance and which we intend to do more of in the future. 

The issues

We asked what topics you thought we should focus on. Power in the food system was a popular choice, and advertising, scrutinising the research agenda and developing ethical tools were all thought to be good ideas.  We are working up project proposals on these issues, including the role of ‘big data’ in creating a sustainable food system.

How to support us

We asked if you would be interested in supporting the Food Ethics Council and were pleased that many of you said you would be. We will be approaching some of you for funds to support our vital work in 2016.

Overall, we were very encouraged to see that the values we hold dear (impartiality, convening, and being an ethical standard-bearer) also resonate with everyone who took the time to answer our survey questions. We think that broadly we’re on track to meet the expectations of our stakeholders but we could do better at raising our profile, and communicating our work more widely. We’ll be working hard on these issues over the coming year – thank you for your feedback and insights.

We wish you a very merry Christmas and look forward to updating you with our plans in the New Year!

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