KANSAS CITY, MO. – Hatfield, Pa.-based Clemens Food Group is using nutritional labeling to call out its transition to all-natural ingredients in many of its products, said Sandra Sage, the company’s vice president of Market Solutions.

“We began with our Hatfield dry rubbed marinated line of tenderloins and filets and have recently completed dinner sausage and our Recipe Essentials line of fresh ground pork and sausage,” Sage said. “We’ve launched bacon, ham steaks and a boneless ham under our Hatfield Uncured No Antibiotics Ever line just this year.”

For the past three years, Hatfield has been on a journey of simplifying its ingredient statements and removing ingredients its consumers have said they don’t want to see in their food, Sage said. 

The majority of the company’s value-added portfolio is all-natural because Hatfield listened to its consumers and the company sees it as a competitive edge.  

“Nutritional labeling has been one of our go-to-market strategies that continues to contribute to the success of our dry rubbed marinated portfolio,” Sage said. “We’ve refreshed our labeling to call out protein value per serving, all natural and no hormones or steroids and no nitrates or nitrites, just to name a few.”

Protein and all-natural in the spotlight

Clemens saw an opportunity to help consumers understand the value of protein in pork, so the company started providing a protein callout per serving on the front of its labels. 

Calling out protein across its entire Hatfield branded portfolio, Sage said, creates a consistent way for consumers to identify the protein per serving, making it easier for consumers to shop.  

“Other categories have done this,” she said. “We’ve brought a protein callout to our front label, and we now see our competitors following suit.

Through the work Clemens has done with concept testing to validate the importance of the attributions on its labels, the company found that calling out “all-natural” on packaging yielded a 96% purchase likelihood.

Shoppers are willing to pay more for all-natural products, placing a higher value on products such as Hatfield Dry Rubbed Marinated pork and Hatfield Recipe Essentials. 

Although not permitted by USDA standards, Clemens Food Group made the decision to call out that its pork is raised with no added hormones or steroids for growth on the front of its Hatfield labels. “This helps shoppers understand that our animals were raised without added hormones and the use of steroids or growth promotants,” Sage said. “We find that consumers are looking for all natural fresh meat. No antibiotics ever attribution is also key for fresh meat products.”

Clemens’ Farm Promise NAE provides a portfolio of pork products for the consumer looking for nutritional proteins from pork raised with no antibiotics.  

Pandemic priorities

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased consumer behavior around shopping for products with cleaner labels. The need to remain healthy during this time, Sage said, has accelerated the desire to control what goes into our bodies for sustained health.

Having proteins with simple ingredients that consumers can recognize are perceived to have a higher value of contributing to maintaining one’s health during a global pandemic. 

“As we help consumers transition out of the pandemic, Clemens Food Group will remain steadfast in our commitment to all natural pork products and no antibiotics ever offerings from the Hatfield and Farm Promise brands,” she said. “This is a commitment that we have honored pre-pandemic and will continue to honor after the pandemic.”