We care about where our foods come from!

Articles
July 16, 2009

We care about where our foods come from!

The Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research report, The Checkout, found that consumers are tuning in more and more to the country of origin labeling (COOL) on their foods. The Checkout, a year-long shopper experience study, based on a nationally-representative, monthly survey of 1,200 consumers, tracks consumer opinions and behaviors ranging from coupon use to location of store. The current update found that consumers are more frequently choosing American-made products over less expensive foreign-made goods. Consumer incentive to purchase American-made goods increased by two percent, and those shoppers whose main concern was price (lowest possible) dropped by two percent; both of these are statistically significant. SupermarketGuru.com conducted a similar consumer poll in March 2009 with the specific goal of better understanding shopper's attitudes towards imported meat and COOL. The results revealed that consumers do in fact place great importance (77%) and preference (84%) for American-raised, bred and slaughtered meat. A majority (73%) also assume imported meat to be less safe than its American counterpart. Eighty-one percent of consumers report feeling confused when more than one country is listed on the label; consequently, 40% don't buy the meat, and 34% say they look for meat labeled "product of the U.S.A." to purchase instead.

The Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research report, The Checkout, found that consumers are tuning in more and more to the country of origin labeling (COOL) on their foods. The Checkout, a year-long shopper experience study, based on a nationally-representative, monthly survey of 1,200 consumers, tracks consumer opinions and behaviors ranging from coupon use to location of store.

The current update found that consumers are more frequently choosing American-made products over less expensive foreign-made goods. Consumer incentive to purchase American-made goods increased by two percent, and those shoppers whose main concern was price (lowest possible) dropped by two percent; both of these are statistically significant.

SupermarketGuru.com conducted a similar consumer poll in March 2009 with the specific goal of better understanding shopper's attitudes towards imported meat and COOL. The results revealed that consumers do in fact place great importance (77%) and preference (84%) for American-raised, bred and slaughtered meat.  A majority (73%) also assume imported meat to be less safe than its American counterpart.

Eighty-one percent of consumers report feeling confused when more than one country is listed on the label; consequently, 40% don't buy the meat, and 34% say they look for meat labeled "product of the U.S.A." to purchase instead.

Most importantly, 64% of consumers report that they would switch stores in order to buy meat labeled "product of the U.S.A." if it was not available at their current grocer or butcher's counter.

COOL lists the countries where the meat was born, raised and/or processed. Meat labeled "Product of the U.S.A." was born, raised and processed in the U.S.A. only.

Sometimes animals born in one country are taken to another country where they are raised and processed. This is a common practice to reduce costs, or as some farmers specialize in one of the various aspects of livestock production - breeding, growing, feeding, or processing.

Labels also differ depending on how long the animal has spent in this country. For example, if an animal was born in Canada and raised and processed in the U.S.A. the label would read, "Product of the U.S.A.," and Canada." If the meat was born and raised in Canada but processed in the U.S.A., the label would read, "Product of Canada and the U.S.A."

As of now, COOL only applies to single-ingredient, unprocessed meat products such as ground beef, chops and other cuts sold in retail food stores. Labels are not required on processed products, such as bacon, cured ham, lunchmeats, or those products that include more than one ingredient. In addition, meat products sold at restaurants do not require the label.

There is little doubt both in our consumer surveys as well as in others that there is a mounting desire to know where ALL our foods are coming from both from a quality as well as food safety standpoint. The result without a doubt will certainly be an overall improvement in the foods we offer our shoppers, and yes, it is likely that the price will be higher. Does anyone question how long a frozen pizza with sausage and chicken would sit in the store's freezer case if what was listed on the label read "Product of China, Argentina, Canada, Mexico and the U.S.A.?