Speer: COOL = Blunt Instrument


By Nevil Speer, Opinion, Drovers

May 5, 2022


One of the emails I received following my first Drover’s column on COOL stands out.  It succinctly summarized the broader sentiment among COOL supporters: “I can not understand why you would say that beef consumers do not care where there[sic] meat comes from and therefore cool should not be established?”   The response highlights the need for some broader context.  


First, let’s focus on “beef consumers”.    Food purchases – especially meat – involve decision-making around all sorts of determinants:  quality, color, health/wellness, food safety, convenience, brand, price, etc…  Then there’s consideration of the occasion for which the item is being purchased (is it Friday-evening dinner or Wednesday-night spaghetti?).  And last, all that occurs within a framework of the overall shopping experience (when and where).  As such, the term “beef consumers” avoids all the intricacies in the marketplace when it comes to segmentation. 


Now let’s go a step further and explore the issue of “where food comes from.”  Undoubtedly, consumers increasingly want more transparency.   But reference to “where food comes from” invokes very specific connotations – beyond just country-of-origin.   The phrase references a multitude of credence attributes consumers may consider important when purchasing food products.   And there’s a significant portion of the marketplace where those attributes establish differentiation.     


The first graph highlights those distinctions as detailed in the Power of Meat 2022 study.   In line with my reader’s email, the report indeed notes that, “Raised in the U.S. is the most popular label claim selected, at 48%.”   However, there’s also a slew of other considerations that drive purchasing behavior: “Already representing 10% of sales, there is interest by four in 10 meat shoppers to add more meat raised without antibiotics. A higher 44% of consumers would like to see more meat raised without added hormones. Claims surrounding all natural and grass-fed remain popular as well.”


Finally, let’s circle back to COOL...


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