(US-oh) Smaller stores use animal-friendly labels to lure shoppers
- BRECKSVILLE, Ohio (AP) - Maria Humel has a soft spot for animals _ and
kids who demand chicken parmesan and chicken fingers.
Heinen's, a store with a meat case featuring products stamped
"Certified Humane," helps balance her compassion with their
The label on the boneless, skinless chicken breasts means the birds
Humel buys were given clean water and hormone-free food, and lived in
roomy cages with access to at least eight hours of real or artificial
sunlight every day.
Those are some of the guidelines set by veterinarians and others for
an animal rights group that created the label.
"That's very important to me because I really should be a vegetarian,"
Humel said while shopping at Heinen's Fine Foods near Cleveland. "It
matters how the animals are treated and how they're fed."
Family-owned Heinen's, based in Warrensville Heights, is among a
growing number of U.S. grocery stores selling meat, poultry and dairy
under the reassuring labels that are luring compassionate carnivores
willing to spend more.
In the age of Super Wal-Marts, huge grocery chains and discount
bulk-buy clubs, appealing to these consumers is a good idea, said Seth
Mendelson, publisher of the New York-based industry journal Grocery
"They have to compete on a niche," Mendelson said. "I tell the little
guys all the time, 'If you're going to try to compete with the big
guys on price, you're going to lose. Do something that offers a
different experience, that sets you apart.'"
According to the industry group Food Marketing Institute, about a
third of the nation's 34,000 supermarkets _ stores with more than $2
million in annual sales _ are independently owned and account for
about 10 percent of the industry's $478.9 billion in 2005 sales.
Nick D'Agostino III, chief executive and the third generation to run
the 23-store New York-based grocery chain, said sales of some of his
products have gone way up since the company began promoting the
"certified humane" logo two years ago.
The store sells more than 35 certified humane foods, including yogurt,
milk, chicken, butter, eggs, pork and veal _ a meat whose sales have
gone up more than 25 percent since the store began selling it with the
label, D'Agostino said.
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