Judson Armentrout of the Kroger Co. explains how modern meat marketers think at the retail level.

December 12, 2019

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What do food buyers at the grocery store really want when it comes to meat? For livestock producers, packers, food processors and retailers, sometimes answering that question feels like hitting a moving target.

To get a better look at what moves the needle in the meat case, we talked with a case-ready commodity manager at one of the nation's largest grocers. Judson Armentrout is a commodity management coordinator at The Kroger Company, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S. and the second-largest general retailer behind Walmart.

Operating 2,759 supermarkets and multi-department stores in the U.S. along with 35 food processing and manufacturing facilities, Kroger is as close to having a finger on the pulse of the American consumer as you can get. In this episode Armentrout discusses a wide range of topics, from meat packaging and label claims to concerns over swine gestation stalls and similar issues consumers raise with regard to livestock production systems.

0:00 Judson Armentrout discusses his background in agriculture and retail meat marketing, and what his team does at Kroger.

3:33 What are the current trends in the meat case - what are consumers buying, and how does that influence Kroger's labeling and branding strategy?

6:00 Are consumers open to purchasing meat products from gene-edited livestock?

8:23 Armentrout provides an update on Kroger's decision to eliminate gestation stalls from its pork supply chain, and how the company is working with suppliers to do so.

10:27 What, precisely, is the difference between terms like "organic," "clean" and "natural"? Armentrout explains what they mean in terms of Kroger's Simple Truth brand.

13:41 What does a state-level mandate such as California's Proposition 12 mean for a national retail chain like Kroger?

15:14 Armentrout looks into the future, and describes what he sees coming ahead for the pork industry at retail, including his company's initiatives on food security and food waste.

Related: Feedstuffs policy editor Jacqui Fatka covered the latest judicial ruling on a challenge by the North American Meat Institute to California's Proposition 12.

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