Are farmer’s being ‘thrown under the bus’ by Big Food, changing consumer preferences?

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It seems like every month or so there’s a new announcement by a food company or retailer vowing to source products differently, with an eye to issues like animal welfare, sustainability or genetically modified ingredients. Big shifts in consumer preferences are behind many of the changes.

. . . .

But some farmers are chafing at the extent to which big food companies and retailers are catering to consumer demands, which they sometimes view as faddish.

. . . .

Adding to the frustration is the sense that food companies and retailers want farmers to make changes that could lower efficiency or profitability without adequate compensation.

. . . .

Young said the situation sometimes makes producers feel like they’re getting “thrown under the bus.”

Randy Spronk, a hog farmer in Minnesota, understands that sentiment. . . .

“Retailer A wants a sow in a pen,” he said. “Retailer B wants one antibiotic-free. Retailer C wants the sow to be outside. Which one do I listen to? I only got one pig.”

Spronk actually has nearly 100,000 pigs. When he says he has only one, he means he raises them only one way.

. . . .

If one food retailer wants bacon from pigs that have never touched feed with genetically modified ingredients, the whole pig has to be raised that way, even if the other end markets don’t care about GMOs.

“I can’t just do it to their particular cut,” Spronk said, “I need to do it to the entire pig. So then it becomes, the rest of the pig– who’s going to pay for the higher cost?”

. . . .

But Randy Spronk, the hog farmer, said the financial benefits of altering his practices to line up with consumer preferences are not yet obvious.

Read full, original post: Farmers feel thrown under the bus as Big Food changes

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