Upscale grocer Heinen’s has implemented the Where Food Comes From CARE Certified program for on-site verification of label claims for beef, pork and poultry.
Castle Rock, Colo.-based Where Food Comes From Inc. (WFCF), which provides independent verification of food production practices in North America, said Tuesday that Heinen’s marks the first U.S. retailer to employ CARE in its meat case.
Going forward, the companies said, Heinen’s-brand beef and pork and Gerber Poultry will bear the CARE Certified logo on packaging so that consumers will know which product claims from farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers — such as grass-fed, no added hormones and humanely raised — have been vetted by a third-party auditor. Heinen’s CARE Certified partners include Brandt Beef (all-natural beef), Clemens Food Group (pork) and Gerber’s Poultry (chicken).
Introduced last year, the CARE Certified suite includes animal care, environmental stewardship, and people and community supply-chain sustainability programs. WFCF said CARE program is designed to support farmers, ranchers and processors in establishing and improving sustainable practices based on region, climate, natural resources, production style, workforce and community interaction.
“The way you maximize quality in proteins is by making sure you deliver as little stress to the animals as possible, so doing the right thing only delivers better results,” Tom Heinen, co-president of Heinen’s, said in a statement.
The Cleveland-based chain operates 23 supermarkets in Ohio and Illinois. “I felt like our customers were looking for third-party certification,” Heinen said. “CARE allows us to promote these claims to our customers that really care about them.”
WFCF said its solutions are used to verify food claims, optimize production practices and enable food supply chains with analytics and data driven insights. In addition, the company’s retail and restaurant labeling program uses web-based customer education tools to connect consumers to the sources of the food they purchase, in turn raising consumer engagement for our clients. WFCF services are used by more than 15,000 farmers, ranchers, vineyards, wineries, processors, retailers, distributors, trade associations, consumer brands and restaurants.
“We are pleased to welcome the Heinen’s grocery chain as our first retail customer for CARE Certified,” stated Leann Saunders, chief operating officer of Where Food Comes From. “Heinen’s is a forward-thinking organization that has been a leader among retailers in providing consumers with transparency in their protein supply chain. Heinen’s has been a WFCF customer since 2011, when it became the first retailer to display the WFCF source verification logo and QR code on products in its meat case. We are excited to add CARE to their product line.”
Meat grocery sales climbed 20% in 2020, according to IRI data cited in the annual “Power of Meat” study from FMI-The Food Industry Association and the Meat Institute’s Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education, released today during the American Meat Conference. Three out of every four Americans think meat belongs in healthy, balanced diets — up nearly 20% since last year — and 94% say they purchase meat because it provides high-quality protein. In addition, 43% of Americans report that they now buy more meat than before the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly because they are making more meals at home, the study revealed.