Clean label and animal welfare
The same is mostly true for the meat and poultry department. But there, because shoppers are purchasing the actual animal, clean label includes transparency in sourcing and the farm’s practices.
Packages of meat and poultry — uncooked and prepared — increasingly are featuring claims associated with the animal’s diet and welfare. Processors are working with farmers and ranchers to understand their operations and communicate this to consumers on product packaging and web sites.
Pasture One, Petaluma, Calif., markets grass-fed and finished beef from cattle not administered antibiotics or hormones. In addition to conveying this on package labels, the company provides “ranch of origin” information, which identifies the specific ranch where the beef came from, giving credit where credit is due, according to the company.
“At Pasture One, we are very excited to be leaders in this great movement for better beef, better environment and better health, and support our farmers who are doing the hard work of raising cattle the right way,” said Peter Hausin, c.e.o.
The company explains that these best practices result in beef with half the fat and cholesterol of standard beef. The meat also is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid. In addition to offering various cuts and ground beef, the company uses the meat to make premium uncured hot dogs and sausages that contain no artificial nitrites or preservatives. This is all communicated on the label.
Just Bare Chicken from GNP Company, St. Cloud, Minn., a business unit of Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., markets organic and “natural/no-antibiotics ever” products and includes a four-digit code on packages. This allows consumers to trace the origin of the chicken via the company’s web site to see and learn more about the farmers who raised the chickens. Research conducted by the company in 2015 had 31% of consumers stating they would not buy chicken unless they knew where it was from and 61% said they would like to know where it came from if they could.
“We believe everyone should have the ability to follow the journey of his or her food, from farm to fork,” said Rory Bidinger, senior brand manager for Just Bare.
With prepared meats, minimal processing and simple ingredient statements are the new norm. That’s why many processors are choosing to use natural as their clean label statement. This includes using what is known as “natural curing” in meats such as bacon, ham, hot dogs and sausages.
The ingredients that go into breadings and batters also are being scrutinized by label-reading shoppers, in particular gatekeepers who have chicken nuggets as a household staple. Adding whole grain to batter and breading systems appears to be the leading trend in better-for-you, clean label formulating trends. Many whole grains in the marketplace also add flavor and color. Some are more applicable for breadings, while others for batters. Some allow for gluten-free formulations.