This post is sponsored by Tyson Fresh Meats.
Standing at the meat case, US shoppers mull over everything from value for their money and which cuts will work for certain recipes to questions about nutrition, sustainability and animal welfare. Concerns about the latter influence the food decisions of 43% of shoppers, according to the 2020 Power of Meat report from The Food Industry Association and the Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education.
With all the information — and misinformation — out there about meat production, it can be difficult for shoppers to make an informed decision. Consumers are increasingly calling on companies to pull back the curtain and provide more information about how livestock are raised and how they bring their products to market. In fact, 94% of consumers said it is important to them that the brands and manufacturers they buy from are transparent about what is in their food and how it is made, according to a 2016 survey by Label Insight. More than three-quarters of those surveyed (83%) said they would find value in having access to more in-depth product information.
About two-thirds (68%) of consumers feel it is important for grocery stores to provide transparency into how/where livestock was raised, and 55% believe brands should also provide this information, according to the Power of Meat report.
To help consumers feel more comfortable and informed, retailers can stock brands from companies that prioritize transparency and work with them to dispel some of the common misconceptions around the meat industry.
Tyson Fresh Meats provides its retail customers with extensive marketing support to help them tell the story of the brand and share its values with consumers, Vice President of Marketing and Premium Programs Kent Harrison said. “We help with meat department trainings, provide answers to frequently asked questions, and have an assortment of POS materials that help communicate the attributes and qualities of our products,” he said.
Myth 1: Animals are raised on factory farms with poor animal welfare standards.
When some consumers think of meat production, they picture large factory farms that don’t take animal welfare into consideration. Factory farms’ poor reputations have done a lot to damage the perception of the meat industry as a whole, but the truth is that 87% of agricultural products sold in the US are produced on family farms or ranches, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The Open Prairie Natural* Meats team spotlights some of the family farms it works with on the brand’s website.
In addition to these programs, third-party audits ensure that independent farmers and ranchers are upholding the standards that companies like Tyson Fresh Meats require. Producers that partner with Open Prairie Natural Meats must follow strict animal welfare guidelines. The animal well-being standards are USDA Process Verified and audited through third-party programs.
“In addition to the third-party audits, Tyson Foods also implements its own FarmCheck program,” said Jennifer Williams, vice president of food safety and quality assurance for Tyson Fresh Meats.
“This program has a unique partnership with more than 11,000 independent farmers and ranchers across the US and has an external advisory panel to review and audit the program. The panel is comprised of experts in the fields of farm animal behavior, health, production and ethics,” she said.
Myth 2: Animals have poor diets and there are a lot of additives in the meat, such as antibiotics and hormones.
About a third (33%) of consumers are concerned about antibiotics, hormones and chemicals in meat, according to the Power of Meat report. Many consumers want reassurance that livestock were fed a healthy diet and didn’t receive unnecessary antibiotics.
Antibiotic usage in animals is overseen by a veterinarian and very strict, according to the North American Meat Institute. Consumers still concerned about meat from animals that were given antibiotics, added hormones or growth promotants can look for Never Ever brands, such as Open Prairie Natural Meats.
All the animals raised for this brand have never been given antibiotics, hormones or growth promotants at any point. They are fed a 100% vegetarian diet, with no animal by-products, except for milk.
The Open Prairie Natural Meats brand’s Trusted Path Program traces the individual cuts and grinds back to the animal’s birthplace, so retailers and consumers can be assured the meat came from animals that meet the strict Never Ever standards.
Myth 3: Meat packers aren’t responsible and have little accountability or concern toward customers, consumers and producers.
US consumers spent $50.4 billion on meat and poultry in 2019, according to the Power of Meat report. A growing number of consumers want to know the meat brands they buy not only produce a high-quality and delicious product, but also that the companies that own these brands operate with concern for the environment and the people all along the supply chain.
Beyond its animal welfare programs, Tyson Fresh Meats also has initiatives that support environmental sustainability and putting resources back into local communities.
“We are committed to efforts for continuous improvement each and every day to protect the resources for future generations,” Harrison said. “For corporate impact, we have committed to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030, and a 12% reduction in water usages by 2020.”
Learn more about how Tyson Fresh Meats can help boost consumer confidence at the meat case.
*Minimally processed. No artificial ingredients