It’s a new year and a good time to check the pulse of consumer interest in animal welfare certified foods. Food industry trend watcher, the Hartman Group, cites grass-fed meat, healthy fats, real butter, cage-free eggs, heirloom marbled pork, and the family dinner as growing trends in 2012 and beyond. On the other hand, “naturally raised” meat, processed factory cheese, egg whites, margarine, and The Other White Meat are on their way out, as described in its recent report “Looking Ahead: Food Culture 2012.”
Among consumers, concern about their meat’s origins is growing, according to Carolyn Dimitri, an associate professor of Food Studies at New York University. Though factory-farmed meat is still a big seller, some shoppers are willing to pay two or three times as much to guarantee that the animals they eat had ample living space and sufficient time outdoors, were raised on organic or foraged food (or both), and were not fed antibiotics or growth hormones.
For most of this year, Congress has been debating what to include in the 2007 Farm Bill, but there is still time for you to contact your legislators and have an influence. This opportunity to shape what food is grown, how it is grown, who grows it, and who can afford to eat it only comes around once every 5 years! Farm Bill policy is controversial and it helps to understand why. Food & Water Watch’s Farm Bill 101 provides an easy-to-read 1-page history of the development of farm bill policy.
Soft drinks – animal testing; come again? Earlier this year, Coca-Cola (Coke, Minute Maid, Fruitopia) and Pepsico (Pepsi, Tropicana, Gatorage) made decisions that their value chains will no longer include animal testing. Each agreed to stop directly financing research that uses animals to test or develop their products, except where such testing is required by law. Elaine Palmer, a spokeswoman for Pepsico, said that while the company had never supported the idea of animal testing, ‚ÄòWe had not been policing it, so that part is new.‘” Danny Strickland, Coke’s chief innovation and technology officer said “senior management had not previously been aware of the (animal) studies.”
So who is watching the animals in the value chain?
A few weeks ago, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. parent company, CKE Restaurants announced it will begin purchasing eggs and pork from suppliers who do not keep animals in cages or crates, said spokesmen for Hardee’s and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Jeff Mochal, of Hardee’s said, “We take animal welfare concerns very seriously…When you meet with PETA they make a pretty good case. We want to stay consistent with where the industry is at now and where it’s heading.”