Next time you are in the produce section of your local grocery store, take a peek at the labels and stickers on the selection of berries, grapes, and bananas. What you'll see is something like this:
· Product of Mexico
· Product of Chile
· Product of USA
· Product of Ecuador
When it comes to fresh produce we have become accustomed to being told from where our produce originated. We have also embraced produce from beyond our borders as evidenced by what's in your fruit basket at home at this exact moment. And there's nothing wrong with this is the least... try finding a banana grown north of San Diego.
As I browsed the meat section of my local Kroger I came across something I had not seen before: label on beef items indicating source of origin.
"Product of U.S., Canada, Mexico"
This caught my eye for two reasons. The first, as outlined above, was because I had only seen source of origin in produce. So meat was new to me. Not a bad idea, actually, as I think people have sensitivities around their meats. I know I do. Shellfish from Kansas is not something I am going to buy.
To be clear, the goal is a good one: to add clarity to consumers about the source of origin of a food that people may have sensitivities around. But this now leads to reason two for catching my eye: what the hell is U.S., Canada, Mexico?
Is this a place? A city, maybe, in California or Oregon? A Google search for this term resulted in more confusion. You know, maybe what Kroger meant is that the meat came from either the U.S. or Canada or Mexico? That's the best I can come up with. Maybe this is NAFTA beef?
Wanting to add clarity for consumers is always the right thing to attempt to do. Sadly, this is another example of not thinking it through. As I showed the labeled package to other shoppers, hoping to gain understanding through their eyes, I received instead only laughter followed by concern. You see, in attempting to do the right thing, Kroger has ended up missing its goal. It has not added clarity because one does not know where the beef came from. Was it the U.S.? Was it Canada? Was it Mexico?
And worse yet is that in its failed attempt to add clarity for us Kroger has created doubt for its product. Since we now are thinking about where the meat came from (because you asked us to, Kroger) and have not only no answer but a baffling attempt from the product’s seller to mask an answer, we now must question all product in this section.
Allow me to help you, Kroger, pro bono. Get pen and paper. Ready?
If the cow is from any of the 50 states in America, make the label “Beef from U.S.”. If the cow is from the country directly to our north, make the label “Beef from Canada”. And if the cow from the country directly to the south of California, Arizona, and Texas, “Beef from Mexico”.
Since you asked us to consider the product’s location, you owe it to us to get it right.