ITEMS LABELED LOCALLY RAISED, organic or raised without the use of added hormones or antibiotics have been popping up in more and more meat departments.
While these types of items account for a small portion of total U.S. beef sales, many regular beef producers feel that these types of labels position their beef as a lesser product. The industry and the media — this publication included — have even tagged non-organic and non-local beef with one of the dullest adjectives possible, calling it “conventional beef.”
Intervet/Schering-Plough, a major producer of commercial veterinary medicines, commissioned a study by the women's marketing agency “Just Ask a Woman,” to analyze the impact of these messages.
“What we're trying to do is work toward learning how to talk about our products, about production and about the industry overall in ways that are meaningful and relevant to consumers, and in ways that make sense to them,” Robert Giblin, Manager of Food Industry Communications for Intervet/Schering-Plough, told SN.
In a series of nearly 100 in-depth interviews, Just Ask a Woman revealed several key insights. For example, women shoppers are more informed than ever, but the proliferation of messages can still be confusing. These shoppers would like to buy organic, but many aren't sure that the supposed benefits are justified by the higher price. And, while they want to save money, they don't feel like they should be relegated only to the “cheap beef.”
Based on these interviews, Schering-Plough developed some suggestions for producers and retailers. Stop viewing organic and other product claims as a threat, and instead emphasize freedom of choice, along with the benefits that conventional beef offers, such as better access and lower prices. Give a human face to the industry by highlighting some of the cattle farmer families that produce beef in the U.S. And, instead of “conventional” try calling regular beef “traditional,” which does have a nicer ring to it.