Shoppers look for antibiotic-free claims on meat labels
April 23, 2019
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This post is sponsored by Tyson Fresh Meats.

Consumers are demanding more from the products they buy at the grocery store, and in the meat aisle that means products that are minimally processed and produced from animals that are responsibly raised. Sales of specialty products with “better-for” claims are on the rise, while sales of conventional items are declining, according to the 2019 Power of Meat report.

Natural* and no antibiotics ever products are especially high on shoppers’ lists. In fact, natural food products saw a year-over-year sales increase of 7.3% and were up 31.8% versus three years ago, the report found. By comparison, sales of conventional food products were down 1% versus three years ago.

Nearly 7 in 10 consumers are more likely to buy beef if it is labelled “natural”, and around half of those people are willing to pay more, Technomic found in its Center of the Plate 2017 report. The report also found that about 7 in 10 consumers say the antibiotic-free label is a purchase driver for beef (68%) and pork (70%), as they perceive antibiotic-free meats as both healthier and superior in terms of animal welfare. More than a third (37%) of consumers surveyed said they associate the avoidance of antibiotics with addressing animal welfare, along with other issues including the type of food animals eat and how they are handled during slaughter.

To appeal to this growing segment of shoppers looking for natural, ethically raised meat, producers are increasingly calling out their production practices and standards. While “natural” can mean different things to different people, some brands are turning to stricter specifications.

For Open Prairie Natural Meats, the gold standard is Never Ever.

“For beef and pork products to meet Never Ever specifications, animals must be raised with no antibiotics ever, no added hormones or growth promotants and a 100% vegetarian diet; no animal byproducts except for milk,” said Kent Harrison, vice president of marketing and premium programs at Tyson Fresh Meats. “Today, consumers are more concerned about animal production practices and are looking for claims such as no antibiotics or added hormones. Tyson Fresh Meats understands these concerns and meets consumers’ needs with the Open Prairie Natural Meats brand.”

The array of terminology on product packaging and promotional materials can be confusing for shoppers as more brands call out their specifications. Harrison said Tyson Fresh Meats makes an effort to offer clarification, both directly to consumers as well as through its retail partners.

“Tyson Fresh Meats and the Open Prairie Natural Meats brand team have a platform of openness and encourage customers and consumers to engage with us on social media,” he said. “Our brand team is knowledgeable and has resources available to help retailers understand our Never Ever product offering and share this information with consumers.”

*Minimally processed. No artificial ingredients.

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