Editor’s note: First in a two-part series
For most food animal veterinarians and grocery retailers, the only interaction they have with each other is perhaps a smile and nod when they see each other in the grocery store. What lies beneath their friendly exteriors, however, is a wealth of untapped information that can be shared both about consumers and about food animal production that can help each side further their goals -- providing safe wholesome food for consumers.
In early 2006 at the National Grocer’s Association (N.G.A.) annual meeting in
The goal was to bring four food animal veterinarians -- representing dairy, feedlot, cow-calf and swine -- together with retail industry experts to talk about consumer wants, perceptions and fears, as well as to dispel misinformation about food animal production. This article will focus on what retailers and veterinarians believe that consumers are wanting, perceiving and fearing about their food and how it is produced.
In a product as emotionally driven as food, consumers are looking for meat and milk they can trust and feel good about.
At the end of the day, the collaboration opened some doors. “We identified several key issues regarding food production, but they were viewed from unique perspectives,” says Brad White,
Identifying what consumers want is like the $64,000 question. No product is as basic and emotionally driven as food.
Doug Sumpter says to counter negative information about livestock production, the food and retail industry has to have positive information available.
“I think there is some real truth to the fact that there are some very specific things consumers are looking for,” says Mark Wustenberg, DVM, vice president, Dairy Services, Tillamook County Creamery Association,
A rise in demand for organic foods is a trend retailers are critically evaluating. “Who is buying organic? We tend to think they are the white, liberal, high-income people,” says Denis Zegar, president of Food For All,
“We use antibiotics in the production system because they are safe,” says Mike Apley, DVM, PhD.