If you were to plot dots on a piece of paper where the distance between these dots represented the different views on antibiotics amongst the government, consumers, producers and restaurant chains/retailers, the dots would likely be as far away as possible. And when you first look at these dots and views, you may think the only thing that stands out as a common link is worry.
Governments tend to feel the pressure of their constituents. Not giving the majority, or the most vocal, what they want can lead to problems. They worry about meeting the overall demand for food in their country. How do you feed millions and millions of people? They also worry about the health and safety of the people.
There are many governmental entities, including the FDA, USDA and European Commission that have divisions dedicated to ensuring we have a safe food supply. Therefore, handicapping the ability to meet disease challenges is a real concern for them.
Consumers worry about the safety of the food they eat. Increasingly they want to know where it comes from and what was used to help grow it. They don’t want to put themselves or their kids at risk now or in the future.
As they learn more about antibiotic resistance, they’re becoming concerned about how we will head-off a public health nightmare but they also worry about their wallets. Though demand for the often more expensive, naturally grown meat, milk and eggs has increased, consumer purchases as a whole still tend to stay with lower priced food items.
Chains/retailers want to provide quality products that will help them earn revenue and improve their brand image. Their first goal however, is to give the customer what they want. Walter Robb, co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market illustrated this point at Alltech’s REBELation event in 2015, “We’ve got to keep evolving, faster and faster. Anchored by our purpose. Anchored by our values. But pushing forward in service of our customer”.
On top of this focus, chains/retailers also desire to be seen as having the next big thing. This type of “trending” can come in the form of having all-day breakfast like McDonald’s, but it can also be in providing a meat that is raised without antibiotics. It’s the latest train that everyone is jumping on, and for good reason. Those that miss the trend train, often miss opportunities for increased profitability and market share. Being the last stop before the consumer, they also have to worry about the safety and quality of the products they provide. Many issues will be blamed not on the farmer or producer, but the store or restaurant.
Farmers and producers who help raise pigs, poultry, beef and dairy worry about many things. First and foremost, they worry about maintaining the economic viability of their operation and supporting their family. Equally, they worry about the health and safety of the animals. They see first-hand the effects a disease can have on animals so they want to make sure they are doing what is best. “We have been asked to do a lot of things by customers that we haven’t done. We will not do it until we can prove that it is sustainable,” said Doug Clemens, CEO, Clemens Family Corporation, at Alltech’s REBELation.
The interesting thing is, if you take away the differences in opinion regarding tactics for the path forward, all groups want to drive to the same destination. Everyone wants a safe and traceable food supply for themselves and future generations, and it needs to be affordable for all.
Alltech has been helping connect the dots between these different groups for more than 35 years. Through combinations of nutritional innovation and managerial support like Alltech’s Antibiotic-Free programme, producers can navigate the challenges of antibiotic-free production and ensure they have healthy animals and a profitable operation; beginning a positive reaction through the food chain that provides a safe and traceable product that everyone can enjoy and agree on…worry-free.
To learn more about Alltech’s Antibiotic-Free programme, visit Alltech.com/antibiotic-free.