Each year in the trend forecasts, culinary experts note the increasing prevalence of sustainable and grass-fed practices, as consumers incrementally—and consistently—make their priorities known via their pocketbooks. But hormone-free, grass-fed and organic options aren’t just limited to meat and produce—consumers are also looking for dairy products that they can feel good about buying, too.
Four out of five consumers who regularly purchase natural or organic products also purchase grass-fed products, according to Market LOHAS 2017 Health & Natural Consumer Survey. Additionally, according to SPINS, products that are 100% grass-fed are the fastest-growing organic segment, with 34% sales growth over the past two years. This is making grass-fed dairy an area of opportunity for retailers.
To reach the increasing number of customers who are making these purchases, it’s imperative that retailers understand the facts and benefits of grass-fed dairy, including milk.
Grass-fed dairy facts
Consumers now want to know how their favorite products are made and that they’re made with quality ingredients. Ensuring that store employees understand the differences between the types of products available, particularly when it comes to a term such as “grass-fed,” can make the difference between a sale and a customer who leaves empty-handed.
Grass-fed dairy comes from cows that are, as the name indicates, 100% grass-fed. The cows don’t eat grain, just fresh pasture and dried forages such as hay.
Although the USDA doesn’t regulate what constitutes “grass-fed,” some companies, including Organic Valley, are working with other members of the industry to create a set of standards known as the 10 Principles for Grass-Fed Dairy. This set of standards includes prohibiting grain or grain by-products as food for cows, providing access to the outdoors, a focus on animal health and a ban on using antibiotics and growth hormones.
Grass-fed dairy benefits
Consumers that are both environmentally and health-conscious are beginning to understand that feeding cows the way nature intended results in a better product, including milk, from those cows.
A recent study published in Food Science & Nutrition looked at more than 1,100 milk samples over a three-year period and compared the fatty acid profile of cows that were nearly 100% grass-fed to those that ate conventional diets. Researchers found several differences between the types of milk samples, including a healthier omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio in the grass-fed samples as well as higher amounts of fatty acids, including CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). It wasn’t just a small difference, either—the grass-fed milk samples had 147% more omega-3 fatty acids and 125% more CLA than conventional milk.
Overall, retailers should recognize both the benefits of grass-fed dairy, but more importantly, they should recognize that their customers are looking for these products. By stocking them and highlighting their benefits, retailers can both appeal to consumers seeking out these options and boost sales in the dairy aisle.
This post is sponsored by Organic Valley