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Animal Agribusiness Angle

Roy Graber, staff reporter for WATTAgNet, combines his Midwestern farming background with his knowledge of economics and agriculture policy to offer a deeper look at the poultry and pig industries.
Broilers & Layers / North America / Industry News & Trends / Poultry Welfare

Animal rights issues not on the menu at local diners

Local-restaurant
Tom Pickering, Freeimages.com

National chains say customer demand for better animal welfare practices have led to changes, but mom and pop restaurants aren’t saying that

July 31, 2017

If you were to ask me what are my favorite places to eat, you won’t hear me say any national chain restaurants. Instead, I will respond with a variety of mom and pop burger joints, pizza places and cafes.

Some of those places are in towns I am in frequently, while others are in places I go to only once in a blue moon. Admittedly, I have eaten at a lot of chain restaurants and enjoy them as well, but when possible, I tend to go with the local establishments.

There are several reasons for this. First, I like to try new things. Yes, there are the occasional disappointments, but more often than not, it is good food. The same can often be said about the atmosphere. It is a bit more personal, and you in more than one way can take in the local flavor.

There are also economic benefits. While both types of restaurants contribute to the economy, it seems to have a better benefit when you eat at a locally-owned restaurant. Typically, more of that money stays in town, which supports other local businesses, the local school district, the local parks and adds to the overall quality of life.

But recently, I discovered another benefit. You aren’t nearly as likely to see these businesses commit to sourcing its meat, poultry and eggs to comply with certain production standards and instead focus on flavorful food and good service.

Few local businesses are making exclusive purchase pledges

The staff at WATT Global Media have been actively tracking and reporting which companies have made purchase pledges to convert their entire supply chains to things like chicken raised without antibiotics, cage-free eggs, crate-free pork and now broilers raised according to Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards. I’ll focus here on just the restaurants that have made such pledges.

Typically, these restaurant chains have made announcements of the pledges, and those announcements typically tend to say they are because of consumer demand.

Justifiably so, there has been some skepticism about this and it has more to do with activist pressure and a matter of not wanting to be painted in an unfavorable light. The fact that cage-free eggs aren’t selling as quickly in grocery stores as lower-priced cage-produced eggs alone gives credibility to the skeptics.

I’ve even heard some people say I won’t be eating at Chain Restaurant X again, after such an exclusive purchase pledge was made. To those people, I say think of the little guy.

Local businesses truly respond to customer wishes

For any good business to survive or thrive, they must be in touch with their customer base.

Chains with hundreds of restaurants, like many that have signed purchase pledges, are so large that the people that are in decision-making roles are not in the restaurants on a day-to-day basis.

But the people who make the decisions at “Henrietta’s Diner,” or “Don’s Pizza Oven,” usually are.

They have their regulars, and they are on a first-name basis with them. Those customers normally aren’t shy to communicate with the restaurant owners what food was good and what was not. They won’t be shy to tell them that the wait staff was slow, the orders were accurate or if the prices were too high.

So with that in mind, it also seems reasonable that if customers are truly concerned about cage-free eggs and other activist-supported food trends, they will let that be known as well.

And wouldn’t you know it, I haven’t seen a single report of how an establishment like “Marvin’s BBQ Hut in Beatrice, Nebraska,” has pledged to only serve chicken from slower-growing broilers. Maybe that’s because Marvin is off the radar of animal rights extremists and he truly knows the wishes of his customers.

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