by Shara Rutberg
A new survey of U.S. grocery store chains reveals that although consumers are hungry for a free range of humanely-treated food options, their options are, well, confined.
The World Society for the Protections of Animals, an international organization with member groups including the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, just released its inaugural ranking of American grocery chains: "Finding Animal Friendly Food: The Availability of Humanely Labeled Foods in U.S. Grocery Stores." The survey examined 200 stores in 34 states, recording the availability of humanely labeled products in four categories — dairy, eggs, unprocessed meat and poultry, and processed meat and poultry.
"Surveys have shown that people are very interested in buying more humanely raised food. We were interested in finding out what the actually availability was," says Sharanya Prasad, U.S. program officer in the organization's Boston office.
Whole Foods Market topped the list. Wegman's Food Markets came in second, with only about half the leader's score. "The survey clearly shows that although people are interested in purchasing these foods, they might not be finding what they want to buy," says Prasad.
The survey is available on a new Web site: www.eathumane.org. The site also explains what many food labels mean in terms of animal treatment, including "American Humane Certified," "Animal Welfare Approved," " Certified Humane," "natural," "free range," "USDA organic," and "cage free."
"We're hoping consumers will take some of the actions we outline on the Web site," says Prasad, "and we're hoping that the stores will take the hint." WSPA plans on revising the list annually.