Craig: you raise an interesting issue regarding consistency, within a category
(e.g. conventional, organic, etc.).
I had an interesting call yesterday from a longtime friend and large scale
seedstock producer of beef cattle. From his observations of the organic
industry to date, it appeared that organic beef producers are now, today, where
conventional producers were about 15 years ago - in terms of their awareness of
the critical importance of consistency in the flavor, quality, texture, and
taste of meat. This is increasingly recognized as a critical marketing issue,
and is indeed the reason why some have gone the route of "branded" beef, with a
label like "Angus Beef" (or in milk, Jersey Gold) or whatever - to profile
specific attributes, of which one of chief importance is consistency,
reliability, and predictability.
I fully support the notion of local production-consumption, and niche markets
for speciality products etc. But it is also clear that within that given niche,
consistency of flavor, taste, aroma, etc. is going to be an important selling
feature. Will we be seeing niche differentiation within the "organic" label?
Such that consumers will be able to identify and intentionally purchase Farmer
Joan's carrots as distinct from Farmer Betty's carrots, as consumer are now able
to select for Angus beef vs. no-name? Particularly in beef, how the animal is
raised, slaughtered, and processed has a huge influence on flavor, texture etc.
- and nothing turns off the consumer faster than buying a tough roast or
tasteless steak for an important occasion. This is an aspect of quality control
that I hope organic producers are taking heed of. Ann
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