The consumer transparency study focused on consumers’ growing interest in transparency and its importance in their purchasing decisions and brand trust. The study explored consumer desire for transparency in animal protein and their perceptions of industry transparency when it comes to animal welfare and sustainability. It also looked at the interplay of transparency and traceability and consumers’ willingness to pay for transparency label claims.
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The study surveyed more than 1,000 consumers who represent the U.S. shopper. Respondents were given two definitions: transparency as knowing how food was grown, raised, and made; and traceability was defined as knowing where foods come from, or more specifically, being able to follow the movement of food products and ingredients through the supply chain. Highlights from the study include:
- 66% reported transparency in animal proteins as extremely or very important, for reasons such as health and nutrition
- 86% reported transparency in animal proteins was very to extremely important, and that 40% of those consumers want to know where their livestock comes from
- Over 50% of consumers surveyed reported they were willing to pay a 5% premium for transparency on the label and want more information than ever about how their food is grown and raised to make informed decisions at the grocery store
- 55% surveyed reported environmental sustainability as very to extremely important
- 66% report animal care and treatment as very to extremely important.
“The survey results tell us consumers want more information than ever in order to make informed decisions about the food they put on their dinner tables,” said Dr. Allison Flinn, DVM, Executive Director, Value Chain and Consumer Affairs, Merck Animal Health.
One way that Merck Animal Health says they can help bridge the gap is through their DNA TRACEBACK platform, a meat traceability solution that verifies the origin of meat products for the food producer, retailer, and consumer.
“We work to be the industry leader in improving animal health through our biopharmaceutical and technology portfolio solutions, and we also have the technology that can provide greater transparency and allow consumers to make informed decisions. In fact, our DNA TRACEBACK technology, which uses nature’s bar code — DNA — with data analytics, provides an evidence-based animal protein traceability solution to accurately trace meat and seafood that is verifiable from farm-to-table to help build trust in food labels.”
Each animal in the program is DNA sampled so that in every stage of the production chain — from the farm gate, the processing plant and right through to the restaurant plate — the exact origin of meat or seafood is verified. A sample of each animal’s DNA code is captured at slaughter and assigned a unique barcode number. This DNA number is then linked to the animal and can be traced through the supply chain all the way to individual cuts of meat served in restaurants.
“Sustainability, nutrition, food safety, and animal welfare are all topics consumers want to know more about, and we know greater transparency builds trust,” Flinn said. “Consumers also want to know the brands they buy from are transparent, and this research provides insights into how farmers, ranchers, food brands, and allied industry partners like Merck Animal Health can collaborate to meet their expectations.”