SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development - North AmericaEU edition | APAC edition

News > Manufacturers

Read more breaking news

 

 

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast:The rise & future potential of grass fed claims

By Elizabeth Crawford

26-Aug-2016
Last updated on 26-Aug-2016 at 16:45 GMT2016-08-26T16:45:55Z

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast:The rise & future potential of grass fed claims
Soup-To-Nuts Podcast:The rise & future potential of grass fed claims
Loading the player...

Grass-fed claims on products are a beacon for consumers who are health-conscious, want minimally processed food and care about animal welfare, and as such manufacturers increasingly are using them on products across categories and channels to drive up sales sharply.

For example, the claim appears in the snack aisle on products such as meat sticks from The New Primal, in the dessert aisle on sweet treats such as Steve’s ice cream and, of course, in the yogurt category where it pops up on many competing products, including those from Maple hill Creamery, Dreaming Cow, Organic Valley and others.

But the claim isn’t just relegated to the natural channel or products targeting niche consumer groups, such as those following the paleo diet. It also shows up on restaurant menus that cater to mainstream, conventional shoppers – such as Carl’s Jr., which became the first major fast food chain to release a grass fed burger in 2015.

A closer look at the numbers reveals that products making grass-fed claims are driving sales at a pace that far exceeds those without the label. According to SPINS data, in the back half of 2014 and the first half of 2015 sales of products making grass fed claims skyrocketed 40% compared to a mere 1% increase in equivalent products that did not make the claim.

To find out what is driving consumer interest in grass fed, as well as the opportunities – and challenges – the claim presents, this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Soup To Nuts Podcast features Eric Snowdeal, brand manager of milk and cream at Organic Valley, which recently launched a new line of Grassmilk Yogurt as part of its already extensive line of other grassmilk products.

What does grass-fed mean to consumers?

“You do see more grass-fed claims coming in a variety of different product categories now – not just in dairy,” in part because consumers perceive it as healthier for themselves, the animals and the planet, Snowdeal said.

“There is a lot packed into the term grass-fed and 100% grass-fed, which is what we focus on. There is a basic sense from consumers that cows are eating the way nature intended,” as well as a rising awareness that not all cows are raised in a “natural” environment or eating what they would naturally, he explained. Rather, he said, many conventionally raised cows receive a diet heavy in corn, soy and other grains.

“There also are other elements, too. You know, when you ask consumers what 100% grass-fed means to them there is a sense that they are supporting the smaller farmer, there is a sense it is better for the environment and all sorts of things,” he noted.

A formal definition needed

While consumers attach many definitions to grass-fed, there is no formally regulated definition, which Snowdeal says is a major challenge in the industry.

He explained that Organic Valley follows the pasture-raised definition under the organic standard, which requires cows to be on pasture at least 120 days of the grazing season and that at least 30% of their diet comes from pastures.

“Organic Valley exceeds that, so that on average 60% of our cows’ diets comes from pasture-based foraging,” he said.

But still, most consumers likely assume that if a product claims to be grass-fed then the animal ate only grass, he said. To meet consumer demand for this, Organic Valley in 2012 launched its 100% grass-fed milk line, which is clearly labeled as such.

Not all players in the dairy industry do this, however, Snowdeal says, adding he hopes in the future manufacturers and suppliers can come together to create a voluntary standard that clearly defines grass-fed.

Consumers understand grass-fed to be more nutritious

Consumers also are looking for grass-fed claims because they perceive the product making the claim to be a higher quality and, therefore, more nutritious for them.

And to an extent they are right, Snowdeal confirmed.

“We provided samples of our regular pasture raised milk to some researchers at the University of Washington, who did a peer-review study that was published in PLOS One on the nutritional profile of organic milk,” he said. The results show that the fatty acid profile of milk is directly related to how much pasture time – and grass – cows receive, with a corresponding increase in omega-3s and decrease in omega 6s in the grass-fed milk, he said.

“Our pasture raised milk is 62% higher in omega-3s than conventional milk and we know it has a ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s that is just over two to one, and we know when you continue and go to a higher percent grass fed, that just continues along that path. For example, the omega-3 and omega-6 ratio for our grass fed milk is about one to one,” he said.  

Grass fed products aren’t for everyone

Along with changing the nutrition, grass-fed dairy has a different appearance and taste – which appeals to some consumers while turning off others, Snowdeal said.

“Grass-fed milk has a unique flavor that comes from the fact it is 100% grass-fed,” and it can vary based on what the cows eat in the pasture, he said, adding that the unique flavor “is not for everybody, but those who want 100% grass-fed are very happy to [have a] clear option.”

Grass-fed milk also has a “unique color that is a little more yellow from the more beta-carotene the cows are getting,” which also can turn off some consumers and appeal to others, he said.

Despite these polarizing aspects, the grass-fed products are wildly successful – prompting Organic Valley to launch a grass-fed butter, cheddar cheese and recently yogurts – including individual servings that were introduced earlier this year.

Snowdeal says all the products are doing extremely well, and the company will continue to innovate in this area. He also expects others will follow suit and consumers will see even more grass-fed claims in the near future.

Reflecting on this evolution, he noted the response from consumers and farmers “really has been incredible…. It is an amazing connection between the consumers who want the product and the farmers who this is how they want to farm…. So, to bring those farmers together with the consumers who want this is really gratifying and neat to see.”

Related products

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Top marketing strategies for natural products

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Clean label 2.0 and other top marketing strategies for natural products

When it comes to marketing products in the natural channel it seems like there...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The opportunity for medicinal mushrooms

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The rising opportunity for mushrooms in food and beverage

Growing awareness of the powerful health benefits of mushrooms as well as increasing demand...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Certified Transitional Organic

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Certified Transitional helps conventional farms make the switch to organic

Despite organic’s strong appeal with double-digit year-over-year growth since the early 1990s, and the...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: A closer look at protein’s rise to popularity and where it is headed

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: A closer look at protein’s rise to popularity and where it is headed

Americans’ love affair with protein shows no signs of cooling in the coming years...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Paid influencers make big impact with small budget in hot sauce category

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Paid influencers make big impact with small budget in hot sauce category

From restaurants’ fixation with ghost peppers to the presence of sriracha on dining tables...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast Countering the impact of climate change on coffee

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Countering the impact of climate change on coffee

Every year more people wake up to coffee or use it to fuel them...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Separating fact from fiction with probiotics

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Separating fact from fiction when formulating with probiotics

Once restricted to a handful of products, such as yogurt, probiotics are enjoying unprecedented...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast:marketing potential of home shopping television

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The marketing potential of home shopping television

Home shopping television easily might be overshadowed by food and beverage companies’ growing interest...

Soup-To-Nuts podcast: How doing good can also be good for business

Soup-To-Nuts podcast: How doing good can also be good for business

In today’s highly competitive landscape, many food and beverage manufacturers try to set their...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Using food influencers to market products

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: How to select and best use food influencers to market products

While Americans are becoming more adventurous in what they eat, they often still need...

Manufacturers navigate greenwashing allegations

Manufacturers walk tightrope between demand for natural products and greenwashing allegations

Today’s consumers want products that are natural, sustainable and environmentally friendly, but manufacturers hoping...

Crunchies targets Millennial moms with freeze-dried fruits

Crunchies targets Millennial moms as fruit & veggie snacking gathers pace

If freeze-dried fruit conjures up images of space food, or brightly colored soggy bits...

Annie's sales set to reach $400m in fiscal 2017

Annie’s president: ‘Over the last two years we’ve added four million new households each year’

While some commentators baulked at the $820m General Mills parted with to get its...

CPG accelerator SKU blends mentorship & networking to help startups succeed

CPG accelerator SKU blends mentorship & networking to help startups succeed

Starting and growing a company is hard – especially in the highly competitive food...

Three tips for selling internationally-inspired, authentic products to Americans from industry veteran

Three tips for selling internationally-inspired, authentic products to Americans from industry veteran

Americans may be becoming more adventurous in what they eat – seeking international flavors...

Hip Chick Farms expands its portfolio

Hip Chick Farms expands its portfolio of clean, simple poultry & other frozen foods

McDonalds, Panera and other high profile food service companies took notable steps last year...

Rising animal welfare concerns push farmers & manufacturers to rethink humane agriculture

Rising animal welfare concerns push farmers & manufacturers to rethink humane agriculture

As animal welfare concerns become increasingly mainstream, farmers and manufacturers, such as the natural...

Synbio ingredients have vast market penetration, new list shows

Synbio ingredients have vast market penetration, new list shows

Synthetic biology, or GMO 2.0 as some are calling it, has vastly more penetration...

Expo West feedback 'overwhelmingly positive' for banana brittle

Barnana CMO: 'We tested banana brittle for eight months before we took it to market'

Barnana carved out virgin territory in the healthy snacks segment with its chewy banana...

Kite Hill weighs into plant ‘milk’ debate at Expo West

Kite Hill weighs into plant ‘milk’ debate: ‘Do electric cars not get to call themselves cars because they don’t have a combustion engine?’

An electric vehicle uses a very different propulsion system to the internal combustion engine,...

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Shows & Conferences...