Grocers Distance Themselves from Red Meat

Discussion
Mar 02, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Grocery chains selling it are going to stop and those not selling it are not going to start. That was the reaction by a number of major supermarkets to reports questioning whether a packaging process that uses carbon monoxide to keep meat red is deceiving consumers into thinking they are buying fresh product when they are not.


According to a New York Times report, Publix and Kroger said they would stop selling the meat while those not presently carrying it, including H-E-B, Stop & Shop and Wegmans, said they would not stock meat packaged in this manner.


Maria Brous, a spokesperson for Publix, explained the company’s decision. “Our customers rely on Publix to provide them with the freshest quality meat product. Anything intended to compromise the quality of freshness would be deceptive to customers,” she told The Ledger.


The advantages of maintaining meat’s red color is supported by studies that show consumers are less likely to purchase meat that has turned brown.


The Food and Drug Administration addressed concerns about the safety of meat in packaging that uses the carbon monoxide process.


Laura Tarantino, director of the Office of Food Additive Safety at the F.D.A., said: “If we had evidence that consumers would be misled into buying meat that was spoiled or was dangerous for them because it contained pathogens because of the use of this technology, that’s something we would have been very concerned about and would have been cause for us to object, and we have no evidence that that’s the case.” 


Moderator’s Comment: Are grocers taking the right position on case-ready meat that uses carbon monoxide to retain
its red color?

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

10 Comments on "Grocers Distance Themselves from Red Meat"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Grocers who don’t use carbon monoxide should do everything possible to embarrass those who do. They can lobby for government regulations requiring large signs and product labels notifying customers that carbon monoxide is being used. They can label their own product “Carbon Monoxide Free.” They can use a Carbon Monoxide Free logo in their advertising and store signage. The problem for the stores using carbon monoxide: everything they discard kills their profits. And marking down fresh meat kills profits too. So they need to recycle the older meats into higher-margin prepared foods and use the best technology possible to better forecast fresh meat demand. Certainly there are numerous software suppliers with demand forecasting and price/margin forecasting tools.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

We spend so much time here talking about ways and means of building customer loyalty that this ought to be a no-brainer. Consumers have to trust manufacturers and retailers. If they don’t, then what they will do is exercise their much advertised freedom of choice and choose not to shop where they do not feel comfortable or trusting. If manufacturers and retailers value their customers, they will show willingness and respond positively to consumer concerns.

David Livingston
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

If the customer doesn’t want it, then of course don’t sell it. Still, the Wal-Marts and Meijers of the industry will still do it because their customers are not as choosy. Those customers are more focused in price and visual presentation. This is a good opportunity for the conventional grocers to win back customers.

David Zahn
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Public confidence is critical here. While there may be a competitive technology issue at play (one competitor uses one method to “sustain” freshness while another uses carbon monoxide and the outcry may be the work of the competition) – the fact remains that the public’s interests need to be protected here.

If the public does not trust that the product they purchase has not been tainted in any way – sales across the ENTIRE store (and possibly the industry) will evaporate or at least migrate to other outlets that are better trusted.

Education is critical here to sort out what is “real” and what is not – but in the absence of surety, the only good move is to be bold enough to NOT carry meat that has been preserved this way.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

In general, consumers are losing confidence in government, business leaders, spokespersons, and studies. If consumers lose confidence in the store that is supposed to offer safe products, they may well switch to another store. If the retailer claims to offer fresh meat, anything done to make the meat “look” fresh (even if the meat is fresh) will undermine credibility. Creating the trust and confidence of consumers is difficult; losing it is very easy.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 11 months ago

The notion of keeping or building consumer confidence is the number one priority of grocers. This confidence and honesty also builds shopper loyalty.

Those who support not using the gas process to keep meat red should be commended. And they have the opportunity to create a new marketing message.

But, it may be wise to ask the shopper if seeing red meat is important, or not… that suggests freshness, and quality.

If a grocer is going to use the gas flush process, it is wise to tell its shoppers via signage, web site, and in advertising.

Of course, these grocers leave themselves wide open to a competitive disadvantage.

Shall we be most truthful, or not? Hmmmmmmmm

Pat Iasillo
Guest
Pat Iasillo
14 years 11 months ago
Our meat buyer bought some ground meat from a competitor that was gas flushed with carbon monoxide. He put it in a refrigerator and forgot about it. 21 days later the meat was still red. He left it out of the refrigerator and the meat was still red. I am sure if the meat was opened it wouldn’t smell very well so a customer would not eat it. I believe the real issue is that meat could be close dated, not refrigerated properly, but still remain red and although it may smell ok, could very well be loaded with harmful bacteria and the customer would never know. The other issue that seems to be ignored is that the big box stores and large supermarket chains are carrying beef, pork, and chicken fresh meat product that is ‘enhanced’ with water, sodium, and phosphates. The percent of this enhancement is at least 10% of the total weight. This is not a few products, this is across the board in some chains. I heard from an ex employee… Read more »
Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
14 years 11 months ago

This should be a no-brainer. Kudos to those who distance themselves from misleading the public. My first thoughts were that this should be covered under “truth in advertising,” but in reality this is, in my opinion, strictly a question of money vs. ethics. The public wants to trust their retailers. If there are second thoughts, then the money will not outweigh the ethics.

Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

It’s amazing anybody would even debate this. Retailers should always be the consumer’s advocate. It’s when they don’t that they open themselves up to trouble, every time.

Terry Roberts
Guest
Terry Roberts
14 years 11 months ago

Right on PatI about the liquid “enhanced” beef. It’s a sad fact here on the east coast that even butchers I questioned seemed clueless about these enhanced products. I spoke to a rep from a major pork producer here in the northeast about their decision to go with liquid “enhanced” pork several years ago. She said the public wanted a more tender & juicier product. So almost 100% of everything now has up to 13% “juice” added. Although they lost two customers(my wife and myself) it appears we’re in the minority. If you take an honest overall look at the junk the average consumer eats maybe it should come as no surprise they have little interest in avoiding liquid enhanced products. This is not however the fault of the retailer in my opinion. They would be just as content to make a living selling a more healthy product…but the public has to want it.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

What should mainstream grocers do?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...