Transparency still matters. It keeps consumers eating meat.

Meat consumers hold true to values – including transparency.

Food sourcing continues to be prioritized by consumers and manufacturers alike. This includes demand for more transparency around a food’s origins, including individual ingredients and how they are processed.

Transparency in food labeling puts the consumer in the driver’s seat. Micromanaging what one eats and serves the family provides a sense of security in an uncertain world. This comes from reading labels and understanding the farm-to-fork story. Even during inflationary times, when consumers may be trading down or purchasing fewer items, personal values remain a priority. Some seek out organic certification while others want to see a free from or clean label claims. Animal welfare, sustainable farming practices and giving back to local economies are all increasingly regarded.

Communicating the use of authentic and responsibly sourced ingredients keeps meat top of mind for today’s shoppers. It provides them the information they need to best choose how they spend their food dollar.

When it comes to meat, shoppers care about freshness. In fact, freshness is the most important product attribute, followed by cost and flavor, according to Corbion Proprietary Survey, September 2022.

“The survey showed that consumers crave transparency, with 51% of respondents believing that knowing what their product contains is very important. This number is even greater (62%) for high income households,” said Megan Passman, Global Insights Manager at Corbion. “With shoppers being more careful with how they spend their food dollar, it was not surprising to find out that more than one out of three (36%) consumers surveyed said that transparency has become most important to them in the past three months.”

Transparent food labeling provides information that goes beyond the nutrition label and ingredient statement. While the nutrition label may assist with making healthy food choices, and the ingredient statement may assist with ingredient avoidance, it’s the package claims that speak to consumers’ values.

“Larger and smaller manufacturers, as well as private brands, can all enjoy mutual growth through transparency, consistency and quality offerings,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal, 210 Analytics, Houston, and author of The Power of Meat 2022. “With a rising importance of transparency in the meat purchase, the industry has an opportunity to use online purchases as an educational platform for nutrition, recipes, sourcing details as well as actions/commitments in the area of sustainability.”

It is what the consumer wants, according to Passman. And there are many opportunities to improve transparency. In addition to online resources, on-pack QR codes can provide extra product information for consumers to learn more about where, when, and how behind the food they buy.

“Over half of the consumers we surveyed said they are very interested in learning more about where their food comes from and how it is made,” said Passman. “This number is much higher (73%) among wealthier households. Further, over 91% of consumers believe it is important for meat products to be made with recognized ingredients, especially ones that do not sound artificial or chemical. Associating recognizable ingredients to be better quality and natural, 64% are willing to pay a premium for it.”

One example of how Corbion assists with giving consumers what they want—fresh meat with a clean label—is through its plant-based antioxidant portfolio. Antioxidants play a crucial role in slowing the natural process of oxidation, delaying rancidity and reducing color loss in meat products.

“While natural antioxidants help delay the effects of oxidation, when used at dosage levels sufficient to deliver functionality they can often negatively impact the flavor of the product,” said Amber Beckett, Senior Business Development and Product Manager at Corbion. Rosemary is an herb often used to add flavor and aroma to a dish, so it requires careful and clean processing to ensure those flavorful compounds are separated from the natural antioxidant components that will confer protection to the final food product. “That’s why Corbion developed Origin® Powder RO2, a unique and sustainably sourced, natural rosemary solution that provides both a clean flavor and outstanding antioxidant functionality without compromising organoleptic quality.”

The brand—Origin—provides a farm-to-fork story. With our antioxidant portfolio, we are committed to transparency and traceability- from the wild grown, sustainably harvested Moroccan rosemary, to our acerola cherry extract, which is naturally sourced from its native growing regions in Brazil.

“We work closely with our supplier-partners to ensure attention to equity and opportunities for regions that are often passed over in the value chain,” said Beckett. “Much of the processing of the rosemary occurs locally, which also helps us minimize our carbon footprint as instead of shipping high volume low active rosemary leaves great distances, we are able to ship more concentrated products-so its good for people and the planet.”

Origin Powder RO2 is easy to use and integrate into existing formulations or processes. It comes with an authenticity guarantee backed by carbon dating certification to ensure it is 100% natural.

“Another cornerstone of our antioxidant portfolio is our natural and label-friendly acerola cherry extract, Verdad® Powder AC34,” said Beckett. “Our acerola grows naturally in Brazil, and through our supplier-partners, we maintain a very tight connection to the local farmers to ensure Corbion is able to reliably supply a high-quality, sustainably sourced product. The cherries are harvested in close proximity to the region where they are processed, ensuring loss of active content is minimized, and carbon footprint is reduced. Vertical integration of processing gives us visibility across the entire production.”

Investments in technology and e-commerce have created new opportunities to better communicate a food’s journey through the supply chain. Meat manufacturers have an opportunity to retain customers during these inflationary times by keeping consumers’ values in mind. Using authentic and responsibly sourced ingredients reminds them that even when times are uncertain, the importance of values still holds true. Corbion offers a variety of value-based ingredients to help highlight the importance of authenticity.