Meat Case Messaging – From Protein to Production Practices
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Today’s shoppers are coming to the meat case with more than meal planning on their mind. Questions related to meat purchases go beyond nutrition as shoppers want to know about the production practices that ensure farmers are doing what’s right for people, animals and the planet. To properly respond to consumer inquires and instill trust in meat case purchases, supermarket health influencers need to understand the programs farmers are adopting to ensure nutritious, safe food, along with the best possible care for their animals and the land.
Focus meat case messaging to highlight positive industry practices while helping shoppers have a better cooking and eating experience:
- Become familiar with meat industry initiatives such as the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program (PQA Plus). This production improvement plan focuses on providing safe food and animal well-being. Share key insights with customers to illustrate industry initiatives.
- Visit a farm to see how animals are raised. Ask the farmer questions that you know your shoppers are interested in and share your story through a blog, media segment or social video. You’ll also find educational videos available through the Food & Culinary Practice Group’s Agricultural Subgroup. Use the farm story opportunity to also clarify misinformation related to antibiotic and hormone use.
- Many shoppers walk away from the meat case in frustration if they are unfamiliar with the names of cuts and/or which cuts can be used for specific recipes. Learn about the cuts offered at your stores and provide basic information to guide shoppers. The pork industry has new names for cuts and offers resources as does the beef industry: https://www.pork.org/cooking/cuts/, https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/cuts
- Share new cooking practices that help create a better-quality recipe and meal. For example, it is now recommended to cook pork to an internal temperature of 145°F with a 3-minute rest, and a “pink blush” is desired. It is not unusual to find many customers who are overcooking their meat based on misinformation or food safety concerns.
- With a focus on plant-based eating, it’s important to support the nutritional messaging around the meat department for those shoppers who want to feel good about their meat intake. Emphasize the protein message, along with the production of leaner animals. Offer specific recommendations for targeted shopper groups to get the optimal protein for their needs such as the elderly, athletes, or individuals trying to lose weight.