Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 365–374

Naturally confused: consumers’ perceptions of all-natural and organic pork products

  • Katie M. Abrams
  • Courtney A. Meyers
  • Tracy A. Irani
Article

Abstract

Consumers are bombarded with labels and claims that are intended to address their concerns about how food products are produced, processed, and regulated. Among those are the natural or all-natural claims and the certified organic label. In this study, two focus groups were conducted to explore consumers’ attitudes toward all-natural and organic pork and to gather their reactions to the USDA organic standards for meat, and the policy for natural claims. Results indicated that participants had positive associations with the terms “organic” and “all-natural” with exceptions regarding the trustworthiness of all-natural claims. Participants perceived the “no” labeling theme (no antibiotics, no hormones, no chemicals, etc.) often coupled with the all-natural label on pork products as identifying potential health and animal welfare risks. In response to the USDA standards and policies for labeling pork products as organic or all-natural, participants expressed confusion and had many unanswered questions.

Keywords

All natural Consumer perceptions Marketing claims Organic label Naturally raised Pork Risk perceptions 

References

  1. Agricultural Marketing Service. 2009. United States standards for livestock and meat marketing claims, naturally raised claim for livestock and the meat and meat products derived from such livestock. Federal Register 74: 3541–3545.Google Scholar
  2. Auriol, E., and S.G.M. Schilizzi. 2003. Quality signaling through certification: Theory and an application to agricultural seed markets. Working paper no 165, IDEI University of Toulouse, Toulouse, France.Google Scholar
  3. Boström, M., and M. Klintman. 2003. Framing, debating, and standardising “natural food” in two different political contexts: Sweden and the U.S. Score working paper No. 2003:3, Stockholm Center for Organizational Research, Stockholm, Sweden.Google Scholar
  4. California Institute for Rural Studies. 2005. Regulating organic: Impacts of the national organic standards on consumer awareness and organic consumption patterns. http://www.cirsinc.org/Documents/Pub1205.2.PDF. Accessed 17 July 2008.
  5. Caswell, J.A., and E.M. Mojduszka. 1996. Using informational labeling to influence the market for food quality. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 78: 1248–1253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dransfield, E., T.M. Ngapo, N.A. Nielsen, L. Bredahl, P.O. Sjoden, and M. Magnusson. 2005. Consumer choice and suggested price for pork as influenced by its appearance, taste and information concerning country of origin and organic pig production. Meat Science 69: 61–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fetter, T.R., and J.A. Caswell. 2002. Variation in organic standards prior to the National Organic Program. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 17: 55–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Food and Safety Inspection Service. 1999. Natural and organic claims. USDA FSIS website. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/larc/Claims/Organic_Claims.htm. Accessed 5 June 2006.
  9. Food and Safety Inspection Service. 2006. Meat and poultry labeling terms. USDA FSIS website. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Meat_&_Poultry_Labeling_Terms/index.asp. Accessed 17 July 2008.
  10. Frewer, L.J., C. Howard, D. Hedderley, and R. Shepherd. 1996. What determines trust in information about food-related risks? Underlying psychological constructs. Risk Analysis 16: 473–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Glaser, B. 1978. Theoretical sensitivity. Mill Valley, CA: The Sociology Press.Google Scholar
  12. Golan, E., F. Kuchler, and L. Mitchell. 2001. Economics of food labeling. Journal of Consumer Policy 24: 117–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Grannis, J., and D. Thilmany. 2002. Marketing natural pork: An empirical analysis of consumers in the mountain region. Agribusiness 18: 475–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Guba, E., and Y. Lincoln. 1989. Fourth generation evaluation. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Hammitt, J.K. 1990. Risk perceptions and food choice: An exploratory analysis of organic- versus conventional-produce buyers. Risk Analysis 10: 367–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Honeyman, M.S., R.S. Pirog, G.H. Huber, P.J. Lammers, and J.R. Hermann. 2006. The United States pork niche market phenomenon. Journal of Animal Science 84: 2269–2275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hwang, Y., B. Roe, and M.F. Teisl. 2005. An empirical analysis of United States consumers’ concerns about eight food production and processing technologies. AgBioForum 8: 40–49.Google Scholar
  18. Klonsky, K., and L. Tourte. 1998. Organic agricultural production in the United States: Febates and directions. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 80: 1119–1124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Krueger, R.A. 1994. Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research, 2nd ed. Newberry Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Krueger, R.A., and M.A. Casey. 2000. Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Lincoln, Y., and E. Guba. 1985. Naturalistic inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Miles, S., and L.J. Frewer. 2001. Investigating specific concerns about different food hazards. Food Quality and Preference 12: 47–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Moran, S. 2006. The range gets crowded for natural beef. The New York Times, C1.Google Scholar
  24. Morgan, D.L. 1997. Focus groups as qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. Morgan, D.L., and R.A. Krueger, eds. 1998. The focus group kit, vols. 1–5. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  26. National Organic Program (NOP). 2002. Labeling and marketing information. USDA NOP website. http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/FactSheets/LabelingE.html. Accessed 22 September 2007.
  27. Ngapo, T.M., E. Dransfield, J.F. Martin, L. Bredahl, and G.R. Nute. 2003. Consumer perceptions: Pork and pig production. Insights from France, England, Sweden and Denmark. Meat Science 66: 125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. NichePork.org. 2006. FAQ’s. United States Pork Checkoff Niche Pork website. http://nichepork.org/faqs3.aspx. Accessed 17 July 2008.
  29. Organic Trade Association. 2006. Organic sales continue to grow at a steady pace. OTA website. http://www.organicnewsroom.com/2006/05/organic_sales_continue_to_grow.html. Accessed 21 October 2007.
  30. Patton, M.Q. 2001. Qualitative research and evaluation methods, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Roe, B., and M.F. Tiesl. 2007. Genetically modified food labeling: The impacts of message and messenger on consumer perceptions of labels and products. Food Policy 32: 49–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Slovic, P. 1987. Perception of risk. Science 236: 280–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Taylor, M. 2003. Rethinking U.S. leadership in food biotechnology. Nature Biotechnology 21: 852–854.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Verbeke, W.A., and J. Viaene. 2000. Ethical challenges for livestock production: Meeting consumer concerns about meat safety and animal welfare. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 12: 141–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Verhoog, H., M. Matze, E. Lammerts Van Bueren, and T. Baars. 2003. The role of the concept of the natural (naturalness) in organic farming. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 16: 29–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Waarden, F. 2006. Taste, traditions, transactions, and trust: The public and private regulation of food. In What’s the beef? The contested governance of European food safety, ed. C. Ansell and D. Vogel, 35–59. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  37. Warner, M. 2006. When it comes to meat, ‘Natural’ is a vague term. The New York Times, C4.Google Scholar
  38. Wheatley, W.P. 2003. The natural and organic pork market: A sustainable niche for small-scale producers? A review and analysis of the evidence. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 18: 18–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yiridoe, E.K., S. Bonti-Ankomah, and R.C. Martin. 2005. Comparison of consumer perceptions and preference toward organic versus conventionally produced foods: A review and update of the literature. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 20: 193–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katie M. Abrams
    • 1
  • Courtney A. Meyers
    • 2
  • Tracy A. Irani
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Education and CommunicationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural Education and CommunicationsTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

Personalised recommendations