Up until now we have sold direct to customers but I have been getting many requests from restaurants and stores for pastured pork. Selling wholesale means some different regulations and I’m researching that now. One important detail is that little sticker that get slapped on the package. I don’t want to use the butcher’s label, especially not at $15 per pig. Doing that would mean people would not be seeing our name thus losing marketing opportunity. I’m not about to pay the butcher for the privilege of marketing his business.
So I need to make up a meat label and that has been my indoor task for the day. The above is my current version which I’ve just sent off to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to have it checked to make sure it meets their requirements. I found some specifications in this document which covers both Vermont and USDA labeling requirements. Interesting reading.
My label design is 3.25″ x 4.25″ which seemed to be the most common size of the labels stuck on the wall at the butcher shop. I photographed the wall while I was there so I’ve been able to study other people’s labels at my leisure. In the photo above of the label wall I’ve added a digital copy of our label for comparison purposes. There are actually two copies, one with and one without the black border on our label. Clicking on the label wall photo will get you a bigger version where you can see more detail.
I could have gone with one or two colors but the Buy Local, the Vermont Seal of Quality and the Certified Naturally Grown logos are in full color. They make good use of color so I want to use them that way rather than reducing them to black & white. I may initially inkjet print these on label stock, if that is allowed by the state, and seal them with a clear coat. That makes it so that full-color is easy to do. If I go to commercial printing later that may change.
This is my first meat label. I would be very interested in comments from people about the above label. Do you like it? Why or why not? What is good and bad? I would love to hear both from people looking at it as buyers of food as well as those of you who raise and sell meat.
By the way, my lovely and talented wife Holly drew the portrait of the pig. If you haven’t done so already, check out her online portrait gallery. She is an excellent artist, if I do say so. And no, I’m not biased. Well, not much. :)
Update: I found the USDA web pages for information about labels. Check out:
The circumstances under which the use of the term “natural” may be used on the labeling of meat and poultry products are described in Policy Memo 055, “Natural Claims” (enclosed). Policy Memo 055 provides that the term “natural” may be applied only to products that contain no artificial ingredients, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives; and the product and its ingredients are not more than minimally processed. Minimally processed products that do not contain these types of ingredients, such as fresh meat and poultry, will automatically qualify for the use of the term “natural” on product labeling.
2007-02-20 Update: I have updated the label based on suggestions so please keep leaving comments. Don’t hesitate to comment again if you already have done so! The original artwork is still on the wall of stickers below. The design above has passed the first round of comments with the Vermont Department of Agriculture. Next, after more comment time here, it is off to Washington for the design to get USDA approval. -WJ
2007-02-22 Update: Colors and some text adjusted. I’m interested in all feedback, positive, negative, etc. Doesn’t mean I’ll implement everything, but I do want to hear how people see it and their ideas!
2007-02-23 Update: I received in the mail this morning comments on the revised label from the Vermont Dept of Ag along with spec sheets. In general it was good although they were amused I think by the NoNAIS.org. He suggested submitting it to the USDA and seeing what they said. Above is a new version, with the added Safe Handling Instructions section. Note that changes the dimensions of the label to 4.25″ x 4.25″. There are other changes based on the paper work sent by Mr. Mitchell as well as suggestions from people here and on the forum about colors, moving elements around, etc. I have also added more to the links below for resources on label specs and related info. Please do keep commenting. I’ve also updated the wall of labels photo to show the new version as well as some of the older versions. We are now working on revision C (#12). I like the way it’s going. Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to comment and submit suggestions!
2007-02-26 Update: The biggest changes are the Buy Local logo and that I’ve been de-cluttering hard to get it as simple as possible. I also have darkened the Sugar Mountain Farm name. I tried lighter as some had suggested but in the black & white version it became too much like the background. Several people have suggested putting an outline of Vermont on the card to drive home the point. A big problem with the last version was the teeny-tiny text in the VT Buy Local symbol. Steve Justis of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture said I couldn’t modify the Vermont Buy Local logo but that the words Buy Local aren’t trademarked so I should just make up my own logo. Above is my first attempt. I’ve posted it on my wall and will look at it for a few days to see how it feels. Let me know what you think in comments, on both the new logo and the label in general. I really appreciate all the great feedback and suggestions for changes!
2007-03-09 Update: I ordered Business Cards to get a proof of what the label would look like. See that post for the continuing label journey…
2007-03-17 Update: More reading, more changes… See Label Progress.
2008-09-11 Update: Primera Label Printer Update and New Label Version.
2009-07-01 Update: More Printer Notes and Label Refinements.
2010-02-05 Update: More Printer Notes and Label Refinements.
2011-03-09 Update: Meat Ribs Label.
Current: Retail Label.
Outdoors: 10°F/6°F Sunny, Very Windy, Snow Devils
Farm House: 63°F/48°F seven logs
Tiny Cottage: 53°F/45°F no work