Ready for another silly marketing ploy?
The day after Christmas, Hunt’s (you know, the canned tomato company) proudly posted a video on Facebook showing a tomato field with the caption: “No matter how far afield you look, you won’t find a single genetically modified tomato among our vines.”
Well done, Hunt’s. Actually, the same could be said for every single other company using tomatoes in any of its products. That’s because there are no genetically modified tomatoes available for commercial cultivation or sales anywhere in the entire world.
Sure, there was the Flavr Savr tomato that was launched in 1994. The tomato was genetically engineered to soften slowly, while maintaining its flavor and color. Unfortunately, the company that created the tomato wasn’t very keen on growing and shipping tomatoes, and eventually went out of business. Thus, the Flavr Savr tomato was pulled from production by 1997.
So, literally, for 20 years, there has not been a single GMO tomato on the grocery store shelves in any grocery store in the entire world. While there are some GMO tomatoes being created and tested by different companies, none of them have been reviewed and approved by any governmental agency, which is required before they can be cultivated and sold. That means GMO tomatoes are not being sold or marketed or grown….anywhere.
Hunt’s did absolutely nothing to change its product or make it better, and yet they are boasting about it like they just started using tomatoes that can cure cancer.
Oh, except that’s the funny thing. Some of the GMO tomatoes being tested currently are able to accomplish things like fight cancer or cardiovascular disease. But Hunt’s has decided to take a stand against such things, because… well, marketing. By demonizing biotechnology in general, the company has already said no to benefits for the environment and farmers. It is also doing its part to make sure that disease fighting tomatoes will never see the light of day. By stigmatizing the technology through ill-conceived marketing, it is choosing to make an extra dollar instead.
Hunt’s has no other excuse for this campaign. It is all about marketing and all about trying to make an extra dollar. Because there are no GMO tomatoes currently available, the company cannot even make the excuse that it is just trying to “give consumers what they want” (a line we’ve heard so many times from other companies). No, you are literally tapping into consumer fears and ignorance of agriculture (look, if you buy non-GMO labeled tomatoes just for the label, you don’t know too much about agriculture) to make more money. That’s it. There is no other excuse.
This is like a car dealer selling a new car and advertising by saying: “You won’t find any cars on our lot that have a banana as a motor!” Well, no joke. No car dealer sells cars that have bananas as a motor because such a thing doesn’t even exist. If you think the analogy is absolutely ridiculous, that’s because it is completely ridiculous. The only reason you would even use such a marketing tactic is because there are some people that are concerned about bananas being used for other purposes but those same people also have no idea there are no bananas being used for other purposes.
Hunt’s has adopted a marketing strategy that literally exploits a concern people have when there is absolutely no chance of that concern ever coming to fruition. As of right now, people cannot buy a product with GMO tomatoes.
If it all seems a bit insulting and, quite frankly, unethical that’s because it probably is. I get it, Hunt’s is technically telling the truth – it isn’t selling genetically modified tomatoes. But it also thinks its customers are so stupid that they will buy into this nonsense. Now, before you rush to the comment box to tell me that there are people that will buy into this, let me stop you. I know there are people that will buy into this and so does Hunt’s. Their marketing team obviously detected some dislike for GMO crops in general, and decided to pounce on it. Their point was to play on those feelings and fear and distrust.
Unfortunately, the company is only sowing more feelings of fear and distrust. Hunt’s is now in the category of “fear-mongerer.” There was no reason for them to even step into the discussion, but they decided to do it anyway.
The silver lining here is that Hunt’s has gotten blasted on Facebook for this stupid move. Farmers and others have turned up in droves to let the company know how silly this marketing scheme is, and how offensive. That makes me happy. It wasn’t so long ago that companies were allowed to do this kind of thing without any kind of retaliation.
Now, if only they would stop with the gimmicks entirely!
Michael Conant says
Well done! People are tired of being manipulated.
Rosemary Mark says
Thanks for speaking up about this. And for
pointing out that GMO could produce helpful products if people would get past the misleading stigma.
Can you suggest some more detailed information on what crops, if any, are being grown and sold that are considered any variation of the many words used to describe GMO or genetically engineered? I thought most of this was ignorance and essentially a sophisticated version of selective breeding, but I don’t want to be misinforming others and want to be able to have an good informed understanding before discussing with others.
Hi Anaya – You can find a list of all “GMO” or genetically engineered crops here: https://www.thefarmersdaughterusa.com/2017/01/crops-genetically-modified.html
It is true that all crops have been selectively bred and “genetically modified,” not all crops are considered “genetically engineered.” Only certain types of breeding methods are considered GE though, admittedly, the distinction is a bit arbitrary. You can learn about the different methods here: https://www.biofortified.org/2015/07/crop-modification-techniques-infographic/
Biofortified is also a great resource to understanding which methods are actually considered GE and which are not.