Consumer Transparency Research Study Highlights Importance of Transparency in Animal Protein

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Allison Flinn about Merck’s transparency research study.

Merck Animal Health, known as MSD Animal Health outside of the United States and Canada, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, N.J., USA (NYSE:MRK), announced on January 31, the results of the company’s first-ever consumer transparency research study.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays got the chance to visit with the Executive Director of Value Chain & Consumer Affairs at Merck Animal Health and author of the study, Allison Flinn, about that research.

The consumer transparency study focused on consumers’ growing interest in transparency and its importance in their purchasing decisions and brand trust. The study explored consumer desire for transparency in animal protein, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, and their perceptions of industry transparency when it comes to animal welfare and sustainability. It also looked at the interplay of transparency and traceability and consumers’ willingness to pay for transparency label claims.

“Merck Animal Health conducted the transparency in animal health protein consumer research study because we really feel at our company that we have a role to play in improving the health and well-being of animals, empowering farmers and ranchers with the technology and the solutions they need to continue to invest in their business, continue to grow their business and to really provide solutions to unmet needs,” Flinn said. “We know that consumer preferences certainly impact and drive evolution and change within the industry, and because we feel we have a role to play in contributing to animal health and wellbeing, we want to also help connect all of that good work that farmers and ranchers are doing on their operations to building consumer trust in food labels.”

Flinn said many things were learned from their research, one of those being that transparency is extremely important to consumers.

“Over two-thirds of consumers report it to be very or highly important to them, and it is really for personal reasons,” Flinn said. “They are thinking about the health and nutrition of the products that they are bringing home, and beef certainly has a great story there,” Flinn said.

Flinn said consumers hold beef to a high standard, and over 69 percent of consumers want to know where their beef is coming from.

“That is a great story because we know that our farmers and ranchers and their families are working to produce that high-quality beef for consumers,” Flinn said. “So, really being able to connect the dots there and let them know where it is coming from is an opportunity for transparency on a label.”

A technology used at Merck Animal Health called DNA Traceback, Flinn said, uses DNA to track where the beef sold at the supermarket comes from.

“The survey results tell us consumers want more information than ever in order to make informed decisions about the food they put on their dinner tables,” Flinn said. “We work to be the industry leader in improving animal health through our biopharmaceutical and technology portfolio solutions, and we also have the technology that can provide greater transparency and allow consumers to make informed decisions. In fact, our DNA TRACEBACK® technology, which uses nature’s bar code – DNA – with data analytics, provides an evidence-based animal protein traceability solution to accurately trace meat and seafood that is verifiable from farm-to-table to help build trust in food labels.”

Flinn said the goal with the DNA TRACEBACK® technology is to help producers tell that story about how their animals were grown and raised and to help verify their product while highlighting the uniqueness. Flinn also said said it was uncovered in Merck Animal Health’s consumer research that consumers are willing to pay a premium of up to five percent for transparent labels.

“That value captured, that five percent, if you think about that across all the different cuts of meat they could be buying, really does connect back to growing the pie for farmers and ranchers to be able to sell their cattle on programs and gain the additional value out of that hard work that they put in,” Flinn said.

To read more about the results of Merck Animal Health’s Consumer Transparency Research Study, click here.

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