- Natural Grocers has updated and expanded its meat and seafood departments at all of its 153 grocery stores in 19 states, according to a company press release.
- The company has established a ranking system for fresh and frozen items that indicate animal welfare and sustainability standards. Meat and seafood will be identified as Bronze, Silver or Gold based upon the criteria they meet.
- The grocer will now carry more varieties of high-quality and exotic meat, poultry and seafood including bison, yak, wild boar, ostrich, mahi-mahi, scallops, pollock and sole.
Natural Grocers, which serves a clientele that prioritizes sustainability and animal welfare, already has strong meat and seafood standards in place. With the latest refresh, shoppers who want to better understand where their food comes from and how it’s sourced will have clearer labeling and information available to them as they make purchases.
Under Natural Grocers’ new labeling system, products labeled Bronze are sustainably farmed and humanely raised. They do not contain antibiotics or growth hormones, and there are no animal by-products or genetically-modified animals. Silver indicates the same standards, and also includes meat that is 100% grass-fed or certified organic, free-range poultry, seafood that is free of synthetic colorants, and animals that received non-GMO feed. Gold labels signal the same standards in addition to certified organic or regenerative farming practices, 100% U.S. domestic poultry and pork and wild-caught, sustainably certified seafood and boar.
According to the press release, the grocer’s Bronze standard would likely match the highest-quality meat and seafood shoppers would find at other grocery stores and farmers markets. Silver and gold, the company said, focus on regenerative farming practices that support a healthy planet.
Food labels like "organic," "grass-fed," and "sustainable" are major buzzwords in today’s food industry — but consumers may be unclear about what these really mean and don’t often have a lot more information accessible to them. More detailed labeling systems could better educate people as they shop and help them understand the difference between some of these standards.
Publix recently implemented a new labeling system in its seafood department to help shoppers identify sustainable choices. The system uses "Responsibly Sourced" and "Sustainably Sourced" labels to identify products that meet standards through the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative.