I happen to live next door to one of the VPs for Fred Meyer, to whom I mentioned my distaste for the “all-corn-fed-beef” radio ad I heard yesterday. She referred me to the appropriate person within Fred Meyer, Lynn Gust, to whom I forwarded my blog posting. Lynn responded to me very quickly and thoroughly. Part of his response is below.
Thanks for the note and link to your blog. We carry a variety of different
grades and styles of beef. The Private Selection Angus (sold from our
service meat cases) is fed some corn products, and this is really done to
improve the marbling that results in more flavor and generally a higher
grade of beef. (Choice vs. Select). The natural product we sell is grass
fed product, but I need to give a caveat to that as well. When these
animals go to the feed lots, they are given a grain diet, that does contain
some corn grain.
Currently there is very little cattle that are raised without ANY corn in
their diet. In fact, the competitive stores you mentioned have cattle that
while fed grass when on the range, have varying amounts of corn grain in
their diet while at the feed lots. Many retailers are working on reducing
the amount of corn fed to beef, but it really is the difference in having a
product that has a good flavor and one that has none.
The natural beef that Fred Meyer sells contains no added hormones or
anti-biotics. Prior to this offering, we sold [an all grass-fed brand] to the one we currently have is that Customers did not show
much support for the brand, and really didn’t buy it in sufficient
quantities to keep it available. We try to provide our Customers what they
want, rather than what we want them to buy. A few years ago, Natural and
organic meats were not something we could have sold. Times have changed as
you can see by the fact we now offer both. As times go forward, it may be
that the “zero corn” product may be what it is our Customers ask for.
Executive Vice President, Merchandising and Advertising, Fred Meyer Stores
This customer is asking for that “zero corn” beef or at least something closer to it. I know many free-range cows are fed corn the last few weeks before slaughter but that’s a significantly smaller amount of corn consumed than a cow’s lifetime. I’m glad to know Fred Meyer already has an low-corn beef product, and hopefully they will continue to move towards more sustainable meat. It is true, retailers have to buy what customers want but part of being a responsible retailer is helping your customers make informed choices. The more customers know about sustainable foods, the more we seek them out for our own tables, as the growing demand for sustainable food attests. Thanks Fred Meyer for what you already do to promote sustainable food and I hope to continue to see more.