Chicagoland upscale grocer Mariano’s has expanded its meat selection with a mix of humanely and sustainably raised pork and other products from Niman Ranch.
Westminster, Colorado-based Niman Ranch—which describes itself as North America’s largest Certified Humane farmer and rancher network—said Tuesday that all Mariano’s locations are now carrying more than 15 of the meat brand’s fresh and prepared items, including pork chops, long-bone racks, baby back ribs, hot dogs, sausages, ham and bacon.
In support of the product launch, Mariano’s plans to host a series of Niman Ranch samplings at selected stores this winter and spring. At the events, Niman Ranch said, customers will be able to chat with farmers from its network and learn more about their humane and sustainable livestock-raising practices, as well as taste the difference in the quality of their meat.
“We’re happy to feature Niman Ranch products as part of our fresh meat offerings to include antibiotic-free, premium meats for our customers, as well as to support local farmers and sustainable agriculture,” Michael Marx, president of Mariano’s and Roundy’s, said in a statement.
Part of The Kroger Co.’s Roundy’s Supermarkets subsidiary, Mariano’s operates 44 locations across the Chicago metropolitan area.
Niman Ranch’s network encompasses more than 600 independent family farmers and ranchers, mainly located in the Midwest. The company noted that all are Certified Humane and raise their animals without crates in deeply bedded barns or on pasture. In addition, their livestock’s feed is vegetarian and animals are never treated with antibiotics or hormones.
Mariano’s is one of the region’s exclusive providers of Niman Ranch products, the meat brand said, adding that the grocery store chain shares a similar focus on sustainability, local and regional production, and humane animal care.
“On behalf of Niman Ranch’s farmer network, we are excited to now offer our meats to more homes across Chicagoland,” stated Paul Willis, founding hog farmer at Niman Ranch. “By adding Mariano’s as a grocery partner, we are able to support more local farmers committed to our high standards that produce the best-tasting pork in the marketplace.”
A rising number of consumers want to know more about the meat they buy at the supermarket. According to the 2022 “Power of Meat” report from FMI-The Food Industry Association and The North American Meat Institute (NAMI), 86% of meat shoppers seek one or more better-for-me, the planet, the worker or animal attributes, up from 80% in 2019. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers want more information on the who, what, where and how behind the meat they purchase, and 34% of consumers specifically look for claims-based meat, said the study, conducted by 210 Analytics for FMI and NAMI.
Thirty-two percent of consumers polled emphasize better-for-the-planet meat products, with a focus on local and grass-fed items plus environmentally friendly packaging. Of the 31% of consumers who weigh animal welfare in their meat buying decisions, the study found that they educate themselves via search engines, package information, social media, documentaries and friends/family.