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“We’ve been hurt, we’ve been disappointed, we’ve felt somewhat misled.” Feelings of distrust have damaged the relationship between consumers and food companies. According to Linda Eatherton, it’s time to “pull back the curtain.” Linda Eatherton is the Managing Director of global marketing communication and consultancy firm Ketchum. She thinks a lot about how companies can earn trust – and permission – from their customers. A “social license to operate” has become increasingly important for running a business in the 21st century. But this isn’t a license that can be bought or reached with good PR alone, Eatherton explains. “It’s a concept that’s old and yet new again. In many cases, it’s a very simple idea: the trust between parties and partners to do business and to trade.” Across the food and agricultural sectors, that trust has eroded, leaving the general public suspicious about where their food comes from. So what can companies do to earn a social license? Transparency is key, says Eatherton, even when there is still work to be done. Admitting you’ve made a mistake or that you are still improving earns businesses more credibility than keeping the doors shut. In this episode of Food Forward Eatherton explains what’s at the root of consumer distrust and how food and agriculture companies can rebuild their reputations and strengthen their relationships with their customers.

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