What does “farm animal welfare” mean to you? For those partners already a part of the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Labeled Product Authorization (LPA) Program, you’re aware that more than 100 standards for animal welfare were met on the farms from which you source your ingredients. That’s a big deal. It means that the farms and ranches providing the meat for your products have invested time and money into the continuous improvement of their production systems. They are committed to improving the health, emotional well-being, and living environment of the animals they are raising. (See our previous article on how GAP defines farm animal welfare here.)
But why choose GAP certified meat ingredients? Because consumers care. Packaged Facts survey data from February-March 2017 shows that 58% of U.S. consumers are more concerned about food animal welfare than they were just a few years ago. (1) According to Cara Ammons, Category Partner’s Director of Consumer Research, whose company published a recent consumer survey, “a significant number of today’s meat shoppers are more concerned about how their meat was raised, where it originated and its impact on their well-being,”(2) Consumers care about transparency when it comes to the products they’re purchasing for themselves, their families, and their pets. According to IRI, conventional meat sales were down last year, but meat with special production claims, such as organic, grass-fed, and antibiotic-free had dollar gains of 25.9% and volume grown of 38.3% over 2017. These claims on meat and poultry packages also have high shopper awareness. However, noticing the claim does not automatically result in purchase. The claims with the highest awareness-to-purchase likelihood conversion are humanely-raised, hormone-free and antibiotic-free, with approximately 65% of shoppers who have seen the claim reporting they would be more likely to buy the item over a conventional counterpart.(3)
Pet food and baby food products are also differentiating themselves with consumers by sourcing ingredients which are humanely-raised or display animal welfare claims. According to a recent Nielsen report, the “free from” items are redefining categories across the grocery store. In dog food, for example, consumers are seeking foods that contain no GMOs (genetically modified organisms), corn, fillers, artificial colors and preservatives. Shoppers are also examining the ingredients and choosing foods where meat, and not grain, is the primary product ingredient. In the 52 weeks ended Dec. 30, 2017, dog food products with meat listed as the first ingredient accounted for 46% of the category, up 7 percentage points in the previous year.(4)
Other major packaged good and foodservice companies are also pledging their support for better farm animal welfare. Blue Apron published an animal welfare policy in June of this year, which states that they are “committed to driving positive change in the way animals raised for food are treated”(5), and many large corporations like Nestle and Sysco have also pledged their commitment. Sysco will supply products responsibly by improving animal welfare in the foodservice industry, minimizing negative environmental, social or ethical impacts when sourcing products (6). By working with suppliers and stakeholders to assess how chicken ingredients are sourced for its Buitoni, Wagner and Maggi brands, Nestlé wants the entire food portfolio to meet higher animal welfare standards by 2026. (7)
Consumers are demanding transparency around where their food comes from and companies are starting to listen. Are you ready to commit to better farm animal welfare? If you produce a packaged product and would like further information about the GAP Animal Welfare Certification Program, please contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you’re currently an LPA partner, but would like to find ways to further market the GAP label, reach out to our team. What differentiates GAP from other standards organizations is that we collaborate directly with companies to find the right supplier source for the meat ingredients needed, and develop the right process and marketing call-outs to win with consumers. We are here to help you grow your business. Learn more at certifiedgap.org.
- Packaged Facts.com, “Consumer Views on Organic Food and Animal Welfare”, https://www.packagedfacts.com/Content/Blog/2017/04/25/58-of-Consumers-Are-Increasingly-Concerned-About-Food-Animal-Welfare
- The National Provisoner, “Consumers consider a range of attributes in their meat purchasing”, https://www.provisioneronline.com/articles/106613-consumers-consider-a-range-of-attributes-in-their-meat-purchasing, August 2018
- 2018 Power of Meat, Meat Conference website, http://www.meatconference.com/sites/default/files/books/Power_of_meat_2018.pdf.
- Nielsen, “Trends in Pet Care Mirror those of Pet Owners”, http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2018/trends-in-pet-care-mirror-those-of-pet-owners.html, April 2018
- Blue Apron website, blueapron.com, https://investors.blueapron.com/press-releases/2018/06-22-2018-130527971
- Vending Market Watch, “Sysco Announces 2025 Corporate Social Responsibility Goals”, https://www.vendingmarketwatch.com/news/12425121/sysco-announces-2025-corporate-social-responsibility-goals, August 2018.
- Food Ingredients First, “Nestle pledges improved chicken welfare across Buitoni, Wagner, and Maggi brands”, http://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/nestl%C3%A9-pledges-improved-chicken-welfare-across-buitoni-wagner-and-maggi-brands.html, July 2018