When it comes to trends at the meat case and what topics consumers are talking about, there’s an influencer I’m starting to recognize – Walmart®. They weren’t the first corporation to commit to becoming greener and they don’t have the loftiest sustainability goals but their massive sway and buying power makes sustainability an issue consumers and suppliers are focused on. We are seeing it happen again around the topics of traceability and transparency. When Walmart partnered with McClaren Farms to create their own beef supply chain, they made traceability and transparency tomorrow’s table stakes for consumers and other retailers are taking notice.
Transparency is the easier part of this puzzle for the industry and consumers to understand. Over 60% of consumers say they like to know where their food comes from and more than half of shoppers believe transparency around how and where the animal was raised and processed is important.1 The segment of meat consumers who base their purchase decisions around transparency is smaller, but far from insignificant. From the Midan Marketing Meat Consumer Segmentation research, Protein Progressives are the younger, more Flexitarian-leaning consumer who really value transparency in the supply chain. They make up 20% of meat consumers today.2 It’s important to remember that these consumers are some of the most likely to leave meat behind in favor of alternatives if we don’t address their concerns.
Ultimate transparency comes in the form of traceability – the ability to trace a product from its final form as meat back through the supply chain to learn details about the animal’s life. Right now, the industry hasn’t reached a consensus on how we do this. Third-party verification audits are popular, both in the U.S. and abroad. Blockchain is also a traceability method that is hot right now and has even been adopted by industry giant JBS.