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    The Humane Experience

    Consumer demand drives trends in natural and organic meat

    American shoppers are increasingly “steaking” their claim to all-natural and organic meat. But as truly progressive grocers know, commanding stronger sales in a premium-positioned category such as purely natural and organic proteins amid a still-sputtering economy requires a heightened level of planning, merchandising and consumer education to “meat” more discerning shoppers’ needs and expectations.

    In our October print issue that will hit the streets early next week, PG contributing editor Jennifer Strailey takes an in-depth look at the need-to-know trends in natural/organic meat in an insightful feature story titled, “Ground Rules,” which profiles three different retail channels: a natural food co-op; a specialty grocer; and a traditional supermarket. What Jennifer found were three distinct retail approaches with one commonality: Success.

    In the interim, retailers that are interested in expanding their sustainably raised meat and poultry offerings can find more information through a growing number of organizations and companies devoted to sustainably raised food and humanely raised animals.

    One such organization is New York, N.Y.-based Sustainable Table. Through its website, www.sustainabletable.com, the organization seeks to educate American consumers about sustainably raised food. “We try to be comprehensive without being overly technical,” explains Senior Policy Advisor Chris Hunt about the site.

    The site includes Sustainable Table’s Eat Well Guide (www.eatwellguide.org). Visitors can enter a zip code and gain access to listings of grocers, restaurants and farms that specialize in sustainably raised food in their area.

    “Sustainability has been an incredible growth area,” notes Hunt. “There’s been a huge spike in awareness, in part because of folks like Michael Pollan and films like ‘Food Inc.’ ”

    While it’s a word increasingly on the lips of American consumers, even Sustainable Table wrestles with the fact that “sustainable” has yet to be clearly defined in the food industry. “The underlying theme is that sustainable means different things to different people,” says Hunt. “For some it’s environmental impact. Other people really want sustainable to include high animal welfare, and there are those who want it to mean no pesticides.”

    With regard to meat, Sustainable Table defines sustainably raised animals as those that live on pastures. “It’s about pasture-based farms and that excludes confinement facilities,” Hunt clarifies.

    Sustainable Table’s satellite website at www.eatwellguide.org contains information on a variety of issues related to sustainability, such as rBGH and hormone use, the benefits of sustainability and more.

    The guide can be a valuable resource for retailers seeking sustainable suppliers, notes Hunt. Grocers, who as Hunt says, “make a really honest effort to offer sustainable products,” are invited to contact the organization to be considered for inclusion in the guide. Currently, the Eatwell Guide database includes 25,000 farms, ranches, grocery stores and restaurants.

    Additional Resources

    American Grassfed Association
    4340 E Kentucky Avenue, Suite 311
    Denver, CO 80246
    Mailing Address: P.O. Box 461090, Denver, CO 80246
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: www.americangrasfed.org
    Tel: 877-774-7277

    Animal Welfare Approved
    1007 Queen Street
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: www.animalwelfareapproved.org
    Tel: 800-373-8806

    Coleman Natural
    1667 Cole Blvd, Building 19, Suite 300
    Golden, Colorado 80401
    Website: www.colemannatural.com
    Tel: 800-442-8666

    Heritage Foods USA
    402 Graham Ave.
    Brooklyn, NY 11211
    Mailing Address: P.O. Box 198, Brooklyn, NY 11211
    Website: www.heritagefoodsusa.com
    Tel: 718-389-0985

    Niman Ranch
    1600 Harbor Bay Parkway, Suite 250
    Alameda, CA 94502
    Website: www.nimanranch.com

    The American Pasture Poultry Producers Association
    P.O. Box 87
    Boyd, WI 54726
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: www.apppa.org

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