Perishables Buyer

February 2013
Spotlight: Dairy
By Adele Douglass


One of the latest emerging trends in dairy that can help retailers increase sales with select customer demographics is carrying products with Certified Humane® labeling.

One of the latest emerging trends in dairy that can help retailers increase sales with select customer demographics is Certified Humane®, a certification—administered by Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), Herndon, Va.—that has high animal-welfare standards for farm animals in food production and is endorsed by 44 humane-oriented organizations. According to the Dec. 2007 Pulse Report from The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash., “Label Reading From a Consumer Perspective,” Certified Humane® labeling is easy for consumers to grasp, and has been recommended as an eco-label by Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, Vanity Fair, Family Circle, Time, Self and other mainstream consumer publications.


HFAC animal-care standards provide comprehensive requirements for humane treatment. Egg-laying hens must be raised in cage-free facilities that meet specific space-allowance requirements, provide free access to feed and water, perching, litter to scratch and dust bathe, and excellent air quality. For dairy cattle, they must also be raised in facilities that require freedom of movement (tie stalls are prohibited) and outdoor access. Unnecessary physical alterations, such as tail docking, are prohibited in dairy cattle, and practices such as castration require use of pain control methods. The use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics or hormones is prohibited in all Certified Humane® standards. Caretakers must be trained and knowledgeable, and handle animals in a compassionate manner. On-farm audits are conducted.


HFAC instituted a survey on its website in 2004 to discover the demographics of consumers interested in the Certified Humane® program. Survey numbers for each subsequent year have remained consistent. Women greatly outnumber men when it comes to Certified Humane®, with 90% of those surveyed maintaining interest compared to only 10% of men. Through 2011, consumers interested in or buying Certified Humane® products reflect the following dynamics:

• Under $25,000—18%
• $25,000–$50,000—19%
• $50,000–$75,000—20%
• $75,000–$100,000—16%
• 100,000–$125,000—5%
• Over 150,000—9%

• Under 18–3%
• 18–25–7%
• 21–25–21%
• 36–45– 22%
• 56–65–17%
• Over 65–4%

• Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey—14.0% • New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware—8.5%
• Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, District of Columbia, West Virginia—11.0%
• Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi—11.0%
• Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio—9.0%
• Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin—4.0%
• Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri—9.0%
• Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma—5.5%
• Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico—9.0%
• Alaska, Hawaii, California, Washington State, Oregon—19.0%

• Omnivores—60%
• Vegetarians —20%
• Vegans—7%
• Other—13%

• National/Regional Grocery Chains—59%
• Farmers’ Markets—28%
• Independent Health/Natural Food Stores—17%
• Independent Grocers—16%
• Health/Natural Food Stores—2%


Word about Certified Humane® designation continues to spread. Humane-oriented organizations affiliated with HFAC—with a combined membership of around 20 million—place articles in their newsletters and outreach to their members. The members of these organizations are loyal consumers of Certified Humane® products.

Because consumers want to know where they can buy Certified Humane® products, a search able “Where to Buy” database was created on the HFAC website—one that receives more than 14,000 new, unique visitors per month, and 13,000 returning visitors per month. The Certified Humane® app was just unveiled for iPhone and Android, and a mobile- friendly website can be viewed on any smartphone.

Certified Humane® producers use the logo on their products, and they frequently have banners and store displays for their certified products. Brochures and double-sided cards are available for retailer use. HFAC continually educates consumers through materials, articles in magazines and newspapers, attendance at consumer events, and response to over 700 consumer inquiries per week.


Last month, HFAC announced that all of Safeway’s store-brand cage free and organic eggs had achieved Certified Humane® designation. Safeway was the first major retailer in the United States that made such a major commitment by requiring that all of their private label cage-free and organic egg suppliers become Certified Humane® as a condition of purchase. Many of these egg suppliers stated they did not want to go to the trouble of making the changes that were required in order to become Certified Humane®. But when they discovered that Safeway was serious about this issue and would not renew supplier contracts unless the products were Certified Humane®, these egg suppliers made the necessary changes to become certified so they could continue to have Safeway as a customer. This process took four years from the time Safeway contacted HFAC until the announcement in Dec. 2012.

Many regional Costco stores also buy their private label Kirkland Cage Free Organic Eggs from Certified Humane® producers, and you can see the Certified Humane® logo on egg cartons in some Costco stores. Products with the Certified Humane® logo can be found in over 7,000 mainstream supermarkets in 49 out of our 50 U.S. states.

At the end of 2003, 143,000 farm animals were raised under HFAC standards. At the end of 2012, there were 76. 8 million farm animals raised under the standards; this applies to chickens, egg-laying hens, turkeys, beef cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, dairy cows and young dairy beef. The growth of the program has been phenomenal, and Certified Humane® has expanded because of consumer demand for products.

Although dairy products like cheese (goat, Cheddar and others), yogurt, sour cream and particularly eggs have gained certification, the dairy category still has room to grow in this regard (for a complete list of all Certified Humane® producers and products, visit the “Who Is Certified” page on the HFAC website). Producers and retailers can collectively benefit from expanded Certified Humane designation of products like liquid milk, ice cream, butter, cottage cheese, etc. We have heard from countless consumers who want to be able to purchase Certified Humane® milk and other dairy products, so we know the demand exists. The first dairy company to provide Certified Humane® milk to the retail market will earn a very loyal, devoted customer base.

Adele Douglass is CEO of Humane Farm Animal Care, a national nonprofit organization created to improve the lives of farm animals by setting rigorous standards, conducting annual inspections, and certifying their humane treatment. For more information, visit