retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that grass-fed beef, "once a niche luxury," is becoming mainstream and now is "sold at ballgames, convention centers and nearly every Wal-Mart in the US." Last year, the Journal writes, "sales of grass-fed beef rose nearly 40% over the year before, while conventional beef grew 6.5% during the same period."

According to the story, "Grass-fed beef refers to cattle raised in a pasture, eating grass or 'forage' like hay, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Conventional methods of raising cattle involve feeding them grains like corn and soy to build fat. Use of antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides and confinement can vary farm by farm however, as can flavor and tenderness ... Beef labeled as grass-fed connotes much more than cattle that were raised in a pasture, say grocers and restaurateurs. Many consumers perceive grass-fed beef as a healthier, higher-quality alternative to conventional beef and are willing to pay more for it, no matter that labeling - and flavor - can be inconsistent."
KC's View:
The story implies that if greater consistency cannot be established in how grass-fed beef raised and regulated, there is the potential that a few bad players could kill the trend by selling lower quality product with a higher quality name. Then again, isn;t that pretty much the case with most trends?