With consumers increasingly making connections between the food system and climate change, the resource-intensive production of animal proteins like beef is increasingly on the radar of those members of the public seeking to live more sustainably. Our Sustainability 2019: Beyond Business as Usual report finds that reducing meat and dairy has become a common aspiration for both personal health and sustainability, especially among Millennials and Gen Z. As a way to show they are living more sustainably, consumers believe one form of individual action they can take is limiting red meat — or in some cases trading up for what they view as premium, more sustainable proteins like grass-fed beef.

Enter Blue Nest Beef into the picture, a direct-to-consumer meat-delivery startup that focuses on the tenets of regenerative agriculture, including an Audubon-certification program for ranchers who raise cattle using bird-friendly practices and grazing methods focused on protecting native grasslands. The company’s strategy is in step with progressive sustainability and health and wellness consumers: Our Health + Wellness 2019 report found that in years past, concerns about the state of animal welfare were expressed through vegetarianism and veganism. Today, rather than forgoing animal products altogether in favor of plant-based proteins, consumers are choosing from a variety of farming and food production practices that support humane treatment of animals. Health and Wellness 2019 found that when shopping for foods and beverages, 52% of consumers are looking for grass-fed distinction, and 59% look for antibiotic-free.

Commenting on the trend of progressive consumers seeking distinctions like grass-fed beef (and not forgoing meat eating altogether), Melissa Abbott, Hartman Group Vice President Retainer Services, notes in a StarTribune article:

“We are finding many of these consumers are able to be a bit more realistic and analytic. They are making a more informed, smart decision and they’re questioning if plant-based is the way forward,” Abbott said. “A lot of those plant-based meat alternatives have sugars, commoditized grains and oils from industrial sources that are not necessarily good for the planet or human health.” Instead, this small percentage of the population is reducing meat consumption but buying it from high-quality (and often more expensive) sources. But the definition of “high quality” is shifting, Abbott said. They want to eat beef that comes from cattle that were used to improve the land, she said, or other forms of animal protein that were a part of that system. “The regenerative movement is all about the beef,” Abbott said. “What these companies are saying is that you don’t have to burn the rainforest to eat meat. You need the animals to participate to make the soil healthier because you need the manure.”

Going forward, as the beliefs and practices of core progressive consumers filter into the mainstream, public interest in products produced in step with less resource-intensive agricultural practices suggests there is a place for companies like Blue Nest Beef.

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