Thursday, March 17, 2011

Meat Marketing Labels for Compliance and Sales Appeal

We are fortunate to have a number of producers active in the local meats world.  They have each gone through various growing pains, but seem to be making headway with their products.

Good labels are a key succeess factor.  Labels need to sell and they need to meet USDA and state information requirements.  And new rules keep making their way into the market.

I asked Kenny Burdine ( and Lee Meyer (, our UK Extension meat marketing gurus, to give a little of their insight on the compliance part of meat labels.  Here's what they offered:

Labeling questions are common for marketers who want to sell meat producers directly to consumers via on-farm retail stores, farmers markets, or other outlets.  Title 9, part 317 of the Code of Federal regulations deals with labeling of meat products.  The Food Safety and Inspection Service of USDA has an extensive amount of information on their website including Frequently Asked Questions, label requirements, descriptions of the label approval process, and the full text of Title 9 part 317.  Additional sources of information would include local USDA meat processors in your area, labeling consultants, state officials, extension personnel, and others.

Talk with your meat processor about the labeling process. Most direct meat sellers have  two options. The simple one is to use your processor’s label. The more complicated option, but which many marketers will choose so they can promote their own identity, is to design their own labels for marketing purposes.  Most likely, these producers will need to submit form FSIS 7234-1 to USDA for approval.  Once approved, your label can be used.  The processor must keep the label and approval on file at their establishment.  Also be aware that many terms that are used for livestock and meat production have very specific definitions.  Some of these terms may not be useable on a label at all, while others may be considered labeling claims and require further verification.
The good news is that we have experienced processors around the state that can help producers just starting to sort this out.  The compliance side isn't really that difficult or costly.

Where you want to be sure to spend more time is on the SALABILITY of your label.  We talk about this a lot in MarketReady.  Quality labels and packaging sells what's  inside.  They differentiate you from other consumer choices.

The effort to evaluate your label is well spent.  And there is plenty of help.  DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE KDA POP (Point of Purchase) GRANTS.  Talk to Roger Snell at KDA or myself if you have a question, idea, or are looking for an application.  Meats or ANY food product.  Get a label that will go to work selling your product.

A number of KY meats have done a nice job with their labels.  I like what Stone Cross farms has done with KDA, utilizing the POP grant to develop their label for pork and beef.  Check out their site.  Let me know what you think.

Stone Cross Farms

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