America’s veal farmers reached a significant milestone and they needed to recast the perception of veal farming. The American Veal Association (AVA) established a goal in 2007 to move completely to group housing over a ten-year period. AVA members dedicated themselves to researching the best facilities to provide optimal care and the financial resources to make this transition a reality by the end of 2017. Farmers invested more than $150 million in building new facilities and renovations to achieve this milestone. The new group-pens meet the International Standards of the Five Freedoms of Animal Well Being. Now, it was time to let others know the goal had been met and that raising veal today is far different than what many perceive.
We knew this exciting news meant opening the barn doors and inviting people in for further conversations. Utilizing compelling visuals, Look East developed a plan to announce AVA’s “Mission Accomplished” with a targeted approach to key stakeholders, including consumers and those within the industry.
The foundation was laid by participating in the National Association of Farm Broadcaster’s Trade Talk, a one-day trade show where agricultural journalists have an opportunity to meet and interview industry spokespeople. AVA president Dale Bakke and veterinarian Marissa Hake completed 25 media interviews resulting in substantial coverage including This Week in Agribusiness and AgWired.
Girl Carnivore hosted a Facebook Live segment from a veal barn in Indiana generating great conversation. The video has been viewed more than 7,700 times and shared over 50 times. Media coverage of AVA’s group-housing accomplishment continued with stories posted by Tasting Table, National Provisioner and National Culinary Review. Sharing the AVA’s story of the transition to group housing was the focus of a new video Look East created for the AVA website in October 2018. The video features multiple farms, farmers and industry experts explaining how milk-fed veal is raised today. Additional video has also been added to the question and answer section of their website, demonstrating AVA’s commitment to be transparent and engage with others about how veal is raised today.
The program elements and additions to the website have been valuable resources for AVA-members to further share with their constituents. Those extended audiences include customers, state beef councils where veal is raised, culinary professionals and state and federal agencies and elected officials. The AVA website experienced a 124% increase in unique visitors from 2017 to 2018. However, the best feedback on the results of the industry’s efforts came in an email to the AVA’s website from a Brooklyn, New York, consumer. She learned about the industry changes through an article and just had to thank the organization by writing:
“First, thank you for creating such an important association that is fostering change in the food industry. My mother and I are attempting to translate a 200+ year old (disintegrating) family recipe book that features multiple veal dishes. I came upon an article that not only mentioned the AVA but has now finally stopped my personal ban of 20 years of veal. So, THANK YOU for allowing me to enjoy veal without the guilt!”