The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on health. In particular, consumers have become more diligent about their food consumption – adding food with immune-boosting properties and eating less of foods they perceive to be unhealthy. In Midan Marketing’s January consumer research, 10% of meat consumers said their households were eating less meat/chicken than in the prior month. Of those eating less meat, 26% said it’s because they’re worried about additives, antibiotics, hormones and/or chemicals in their meat.1
Our industry has been dealing with antibiotic misunderstanding and misinformation for years, but it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Last month’s Power of Meat 2021 presentation showed that 40% of consumers simply don’t know whether meat comes from humanely raised animals.2 That lack of knowledge leads them to make assumptions. Lack of understanding surrounding antibiotics leads to assumptions, too. The first step to re-educating consumers is for us to understand what they believe so we can effectively counter any misperceptions.
In December, we surveyed shoppers who regularly purchase natural and organic meat and found the top reason consumers choose these products is because they perceive them to be free of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals or additives they believe are “harmful.”3
As part of this industry, you are a credible source to your friends, family and professional connections. The way you talk about antibiotics in blog posts and articles, on your social feeds and in conversation affects the way consumers at large view antibiotics. But many of us don’t talk about it. Have you considered the cost of being silent on this important topic? Social listening on the consumer perception of antibiotic use in food shows that the voices pushing the benefits of NAE meat far outweigh the judicious use of antibiotics crowd. (Sidenote: This is also a uniquely American issue with 22 times as many social conversations on this topic originating in the U.S. than in India – the country with the second most antibiotic conversations.4)
2 Anne-Marie Roerink, Power of Meat 2021 AMC Presentation. March 23, 2021.
3 Midan Marketing, Natural and Organic Meat Purchaser Survey. December 8-9, 2020.
4 Midan Marketing, Consumer Perception of Antibiotic Use Social Listening/Meltwater Report. December 1, 2020-February 28, 2021.
This content originally appeared in the National Institute of Animal Agriculture’s member-only newsletter Paradigm.