Friday, October 30, 2009

A Truly American General Store & American Aisle

A General Store is a rarity in communities across the country - even more rare is one that is filled with only Made in USA goods.

That is exactly the inventory that shopkeeper Deborah Leydig wisely chose to offer folks in her community of Barrington, Illinois. Norton's U.S.A. offers housewares, greeting cards, toys, glassware, jewelry, apparel, gift wrap, ribbons, china & much more.

While there are numerous examples of online malls filled exclusively with US made products, listed here, this was the first example we found of a brick and mortar mixed inventory store that decided in favor of only US made goods.
The second example we found was a shop called American Aisle. It's located in Round Lake Beach, Illinois. The two owners, Nitai Pandya and Mia Kenig-Bujnarowski cut the ribbon on their shop in December 2008. They offer their patrons Made in the USA cosmetics, toys, cutlery, kitchen items, wallets, hair accessories, lunch boxes & much more.

Fortunately for shoppers across the country, American Aisle has opened an online store so that we all might browse and shop a brick & mortar merchant that is devoted to supporting U.S. manufacturing.

Their online store is now searchable in our Marketplace search.

In my travels across the Internet, I've come across other people with dreams of opening a Made in USA store - a shop with only US made products. The two merchants noted above are demonstrating that such a dream is feasible.

My own personal dream is an eco-friendly shopping complex with a number of different shops, each with distinct domestic inventory that meet shoppers various needs.

I so thoroughly enjoyed adding American Aisle to our Marketplace search this day. It's strange sometimes, how dreams are realized in unexpected ways.

UPDATE - 07/16/2010

Another occasion to smile as today I added Norton's USA new online store to our site and Marketplace search. 

Mary - Webperson for

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Whirlpool Corporation - Another Failure to Compete

Advertisement Transcript:

This country may be in danger
It could be losing something we can’t afford to lose.

Once in this country when a man produced a product it was the best he could possibly make

He stood behind it
With pride

He lived a simple idea
Do it right or don’t do it at all

Nobody told him that
No government agency dictated it

And it built a standard of living
For the world to aim at

Now that idea is threatened
By shod, the second rate

To some it means quick riches

To some it means quick death
Of the standards we have built

Some are fighting this threat

Whirlpool Corporation believes in one simple idea
To continue to design, build and service home appliances
The right way, with pride, so you can live with them comfortably for years
Or they will not build them at all

If we can’t keep this simple idea alive
Then indeed we are the endangered species.


Countless times as a child, I heard the message from both my parents, “do it right or don’t do it at all.” I was raised on that philosophy just as I suspect were many Americans. I agree with the message in the above advertisement even if I lack that particular level of testosterone. Yes, Americans worked hard, produced the best products possible and built a standard of living for the balance of the world to strive to achieve. Whirlpool Corporation, like myself perceived a threat to this country from “the second rate.”

Today, the difference between Whirlpool Corporation and myself is that I maintain my ideals not unlike the many thousands of American manufacturers we list on our site.

Once upon a time, Whirlpool Corporation had a fine reputation due to their innovation & dedication to quality. Today their concern is cost cutting - not innovation, quality or keeping alive a “simple idea.”

Whirlpool announced that they will close their plant in Evansville, Indiana and move production of their top mount refrigerators to Mexico next year demonstrating again that Whirlpool now embraces what it once recognized as a threat.

From their August 28, 2009 press conference:

"While Evansville has most certainly had the best quality, it has not been competitive in terms of cost and asset utilization for some time. That combined with a decrease in demand for top mount refrigerators, aggressive new global competitors and the continued effects of a recessionary economy, are requiring Whirlpool, like many companies, to take unprecedented steps to help ensure that it remains competitive."

Please note that Whirlpool acknowledges that their Evansville plant has the best quality and they are willing to sacrifice that quality for other concerns. Whirlpool also states that this recessionary economy contributed to their decision to move production. That recessionary economy is the very same one that the thousands of manufacturers we list on our site navigate and persevere yet proves too difficult for Whirlpool. I’m smiling now thinking my own company must be better managed than Whirlpool Corporation.

Two other things struck me in that paragraph from their press conference. The use of the word “requiring” implies that this decision was the result of having no other choice, or that some external entity is forcing them to close this plant. If those who manage Whirlpool Corporation lack an understanding of corporate responsibility, they likely also lack an understanding of personal responsibility.

There is also the phrase “like many companies,” as though no one need take this decision personally or think ill of Whirlpool since they are just one of many companies moving production and are actually part of a trend - m’kay?

I can tell you about a trend - in lean manufacturing, something many companies are pursuing and utilizing enabling them to better compete in the marketplace. By comparison, Whirlpool established committees to explore such techniques. Those committees meet regularly and discuss what other companies are actually busy implementing.

Okay, so Whirlpool Corporation is not exactly trend setting or cutting edge. They needed to cut costs so the first thing, or the second thing they considered, after establishing committees was to move production to a low wage country. Or perhaps it wasn’t the first thing they considered.

Perhaps they reviewed their entire operation and business model. Perhaps they reviewed their levels of management and compensation packages. Perhaps they studied each and every one of their expenses and made all prudent cuts eliminating all waste. Perhaps they engaged with their workforce and implemented the ideas and suggestions from the very people who daily have their hands on product. Perhaps they are truly operating as effectively and efficiently as possible - honest to goodness running lean & mean and is still reduced to moving production to Mexico.

Which scenario strikes you as more likely?

The Whirlpool press conference also noted "unprecedented steps" which confuses me since Whirlpool had already closed some plants in the US and moved production to Mexico. There doesn’t seem to be anything unprecedented about this type of production move, it’s just another step that indicates Whirlpool’s inability to innovate and compete. I would though categorize as “unprecedented steps” the occasion when Whirlpool moved some production from Mexico back to the US because of a high failure rate in those particular foreign made appliances.

The average person may believe that highly paid/compensated individuals, well educated and with experience, such as those who run large corporations, certainly must know what they are doing.

Pause for a moment and consider our bankers…

Couldn’t you make better decisions? Give it a try. Come sit in the big chair in the large office on the top floor. You need to cut costs for your company. You can continue to manufacture in the US with your skilled experienced workforce and cut other costs. Trust me on this - if you are blessed with a capable, highly trained & experienced workforce, you have one heck of an asset! Then, if you manage a company well, you can make some real money.

Or, you can move production to northern Mexico, incurring some freight costs and hassles at the border. You leave behind the most productive workers in the world, American workers trading for low wage workers. That cuts wage costs but you’ll have higher, ongoing training costs due to the high attrition rate in the Mexican workforce. You’ll trade the infrastructure in the US for the infrastructure in Mexico. You’ll operate in a country with drug cartels with armed thugs that number as large as the Mexican military. Consider also that those drug cartels sometimes extort “protection” money from US companies.

You might also consider the growing desire for US made goods by American consumers and their growing dissatisfaction with imported products. Now consider that my own company is operating in this recessionary economy and I made cuts in our costs, none of which had any impact whatsoever on product or workers. My approach was to cut fat, not meat.

What would be your approach?

That’s what I thought. See, you would do well seated in the big chair in the office on the top floor.

When companies can so easily and readily abandon manufacturing here for manufacturing elsewhere, there really isn’t a framework in place to compel companies to focus on themselves and their products so they can improve, advance & innovate, is there? They can simply trot off to another country with their same poor practices, inefficiencies, behaviors & imprudent management decisions. They can readily preserve the “fat” in their companies while sacrificing the “meat.” The consumer is not well served in such an environment.

As a consumer, would you purchase the refrigerator that was built by Americans with decades of experience or would you buy the refrigerator built by a person with perhaps months of experience if they lasted that long on the job?

Whirlpool is moving production to Mexico supposedly so they can better compete with new global competitors, correct? So consumers can expect a decrease in the price of those top mount refrigerators that will be made in Mexico, correct? Now if the price remains stable, we’ll know that Whirlpool simply enlarged their profit margin, won’t we? And they only had to sacrifice quality and over 1,000 American jobs to accomplish that feat.

We’ve all been to this rodeo, haven’t we?

Whirlpool Corporation has many divisions and still manufactures some brands in the US such as KitchenAid products. I have no confidence in their dedication to US manufacturing so their product lines sit on our watch list. Personally, I would still purchase those US made brands, placing greater faith in American workers than I do in the management personnel of Whirlpool Corporation.

It’s pitiful and sad to me to see a once great company falter and fail with their best days behind them.

Sadly, Whirlpool Corporation is unable to keep a simple idea alive.

“Do it right or don’t do it at all,” as my parents would say…

Please visit our site to browse and shop the companies who can compete

Mary - Webperson for

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

JCPenney's "American Made" Tee Shirt is Made in Mexico

JCPenney has a line of products which they call American Living. The line includes apparel, luggage, furniture, home furnishings & decor items.

Reading labels at JCPenney reveals an array of countries that contribute to their inventory including China, Taiwan, Honduras, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mexico, etc. How might you expect the U.S. to be represented in such a diverse setting? You might like to think that the American Living brand would be the ideal means for the U.S. to be included, but alas, that brand is nearly all or entirely foreign made.

Before you frown, upset that so many other countries contribute to JCPenney's inventory rather than the U.S. - know that JCPenney found a use for our beloved country.

The U.S. & all things American makes a splendid marketing tool for JCPenney.

Yes, the foreign made American Living brand has a logo with a bald eagle carrying our U.S. flag and the brand is marketed with wholesome American families, country bands & singers, and white picket fences. JCPenney doesn't feel obligated to actually offer American made products instead they are content to simply brand foreign made products with all things that are American.

In addition to leveraging our national symbols and our American lifestyle to hawk foreign made goods, JCPenney placed a Memorial Day advertisement for a tee shirt with the slogan "American Made."

The advertisement caught the eye of a man named Joe Allen.

Mr. Allen was a clothing manufacturer until his company was lost due to unfair foreign competition.

At first, Mr. Allen was delighted with the tee shirt that JCPenney advertised with "American Made" across the front until he read the label in the store that disclosed the shirt was made in Mexico.

Incensed, Mr. Allen brought the tee shirt to the attention of the A.A.M. who contacted JCPenney about the garment. Their spokesperson, Kelly Sanchez explained the slogan "American Made." "This type of slogan is referring to the actual person wearing the shirt and not to the manufacturing of the merchandise."

As I sit here in my American made chair, at my American made desk, wearing my American made undergarments, Capri pants, top & New Balance footwear, I realize that I was lost to the fact that I myself am American made. Does this mean there is a Made in USA label stitched to my birth certificate?

We have JCPenney resorting to reminding their customers that at least they are themselves American made if not the garments that JCPenney wants to sell to them. JCPenney thinks we Americans might be in need of a shirt that promotes American made people, but not American made products.

It gets better - JCPenney told BusinessWeek that the line is “intended to evoke our American lifestyle and pride in being American.”

I've not seen the shirt yet somehow it most certainly evoked something in me which can not be described as pride.

So, JCPenney believes that pride in being American is best accomplished with a shirt that is made in Mexico. I'm now wondering if JCPenney requires an American flag to fly outside their headquarters that was made in China for them to feel pride in being American.

JCPenney has been in operation in the U.S. for 105 years yet I can't help but conclude that their management & marketing personnel have not been in this country for long.

As a businessperson, I'm sensitive and mindful of marketing. The origin of that tee shirt & the American Living brand makes all the difference in the world between a sincere marketing message and one that is profoundly vacant.

All things American brings a world of meaning to us which is exactly why JCPenney unconscionably brands all things imported with everything that is American.

JCPenney hi-jacked our American flag, our bald eagle, our American families & lifestyles, our country & Rock 'N Roll artists, our celebrations in life, our nations scenery, even our white picket fences to brand their imported schlock and now wants to sell Americans a made in Mexico shirt to promote pride in being American.

All things American holds no greater meaning for JCPenney than how well it can move imported product out the door.

All things American though goes bone deep to the rest of us.

The only thing in all of this that I recognize as genuinely American is Mr. Allen.

This elderly former American manufacturer was tricked by JCPenney into thinking they were offering a tee shirt that was made in our own country promoting a message that was very important and meaningful to him.

It was a wasted trip to the store for Mr. Allen - he found nothing American at JCPenney.

If you care to share your views, you can contact JCPenney's CEO, Myron Ullman at 972-431-8200. You can also phone Kelly Sanchez at 972-431-3961 or email her at

For an example of a sincere marketing message, see the New Balance video in the post below.

If you are shopping for an American made tee shirt, may I suggest Union Shirt Supply. They offer 100% USA union made tee shirts. A loose fitting style for women in colors can be purchased for $7.50.

The imported American Living tee shirts at JCPenney with their logo were selling for $30.00 and are presently priced at $14.99.

Mary - Webperson for

Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Balance Footwear - A Personal Favorite

Twenty years ago, I discovered a simple US made product that enriched my life.

It was a pair of walking shoes.

As I aged, I realized my body was less tolerant of abuse. I could no longer sleep on my tummy or improperly lift and back pain became a part of my life.

The first directive from my physician was to purchase a good pair of walking shoes. I learned about caring for my back and shopped for walking shoes - needed for the hours each day that I wasn't wearing 1 1/2 inch heels with my suits.

My search for a US made walking shoe fortunately led me to New Balance. At the time, there was a sign that I read near their display in the store. It addressed unwise trade policies and the importance of US manufacturing. After reading that sign, I purchased my first pair.

With good, supportive & comfortable walking shoes on my feet, my back pain was soon relieved. Free of discomfort, I was able to again enjoy walks in the evening which is good for my overall health. I even did some landscaping at my family's home whereupon I fell from a low retaining wall, turning over on my ankle.

I was surprised to learn that it takes months to recover from such a sprain. I soon turned over on the same weakened ankle while watching my son march in a parade.

Again, fortunately, I discovered a style of New Balance shoes that has a "rollbar" feature. I think of it as a stopper on the edge of the shoe. It does a splendid job of discouraging and preventing someone from turning over on their ankle. This style was 810, now called 811 and soon the weakness in my ankle dissipated. My ankle regained strength and I've not sprained my ankle since.

No type of compensation is involved - this post results from the good will that New Balance has earned with me over the past 20 years. I'm a very satisfied customer.

I'd like to thank New Balance for terrific products that serve me extraordinarily well. My style can be had for under $90.00 which is kind to my wallet. I'm pleased that New Balance seems understandably proud of their communities and their capable workforce.

I'd also like to thank whichever of my fellow Americans made my footwear. Your craftsmanship is apparent in the fine product you produce. You arise early every morning, work hard all day long and your work contributed to a marked improvement in the quality of my life, thank you. I wear this footwear for hours each day and they wear for years. Less than $90.00 permits me years of activity & mobility that is free of discomfort.

New Balance has been and remains committed to manufacturing in the US. Some New Balance styles are imported but New Balance operates five manufacturing facilities in the US which produce walking & running shoes for men & women.

It's possible to spend hundreds of dollars on athletic footwear that is made in China or perhaps Korea manufactured by New Balance competitors.

Can you spot the value in the marketplace?


New Balance has presented a video that honors their community, US manufacturing and my fellow Americans who craft my footwear.

Visit New Balance Here

Mary - web person for

Friday, May 1, 2009

Do You Have What It Takes To Be An American Manufacturer?

Could I interest you in some role-playing? Would you like to test yourself by making some important business decisions? Would you like to explore your ethics and values as well as your business savvy? If you’re game, please keep reading.

Let’s review our respective circumstances in this role-playing exercise.

I’m a manufacturer in the US and I must pay at least the minimum wage for labor.

I operate according to guidelines, regulations and laws that govern my product and my conduct. There’s a set of standards and regulations for every manufacturer operating in the US. They govern what I can and can’t do when I manufacture.

Perhaps you’re thinking that my circumstance is somewhat stifling, enough possibly to get in the way of profits. I’m thinking though that I have the easy role in this exercise.

You are a manufacturer in China. Technically, there is a minimum wage but you can ignore that if you like and pay what you wish for labor.

The Chinese government takes no proactive role in manufacturing and only addresses problems if they become known and made public. It’s extremely doubtful that your product will ever be inspected or tested. With no regulations in place to get in your way, you are free to make all sorts of choices.

That sounds rather splendid doesn't it? As a theory, regulations are an unnecessary burden that would just get in the way of your profits, right? Let’s take that theory to the real world and test your ability to make decisions.

All sorts of US companies have come to your country, China, looking for the absolute cheapest price for goods. Quality & innovation can be had elsewhere so everyone comes to you solely for cheap prices. You’re positioned well with great flexibility on how you manufacture and how low you’re able to keep labor costs. You’re ready to make some money, aren't you?

This exercise could be accomplished with a variety of products from any industry, but we’ll use simple, familiar examples.

For now, you get to manufacture paint. It’s okay if you don’t know much about chemicals because I have only 1 decision for you.

Do you use lead pigment in your paint or a more expensive alternative?

I know you just started manufacturing and this is new to you but this decision must be made in your new business. Do you have an answer? You can secure a contract and move product out the door if you've sharpened your pencil. How badly do you want a contract? Using lead pigment lowers your product cost, right?

How nice that the government - delighted with their role in the global economy, doesn't care about the decisions you make in your business. You deserve to succeed, correct? You certainly deserve the contract.

Somehow I sense that you haven’t yet committed to a decision on the lead pigment. Does something give you pause about such a choice? Oh, you know that lead is a poison, don’t you? You might worry that your paint would be used on toys. Children would be exposed to the lead in your paint and they could suffer with blood and brain disorders.

Is there any reason though to drag ethics and conscience into a business decision?

Don’t look at me, I face no such choice. I could have contracted product in China but it never crossed my mind because I don’t want any part of such a decision so I’m manufacturing in the US. You’re the one with the freedom and flexibility, which should serve business well, right?

So, do you use lead pigment in your paint or a more expensive alternative?

I understand your hesitation, believe me, I understand.

Your fellow manufacturers in China will readily make that decision so we’ll leave the paint manufacturing to them and find you another role.

Okay, how about a fun business like making toys? Congratulations, you’re now a toy maker in China. Disney is already knocking on your door with a contract for swell and cool looking painted toys. They want them of course, as cheaply as possible.

Painted toys? Eh. You know a thing or two now about paint in China, don’t you? Your government even signed a meaningless agreement in 2007 that banned the use of lead paint on toys. It’s not enforced and is ignored by your fellow manufacturers.

You’d rather not use any paint on your toys that has lead pigment. Where would you find some and what would it cost? What would it cost to test so you could be certain it was free of lead?

Pressure to produce goods cheaply, always seems to turn you and your fellow manufacturers toward difficult choices, doesn't it? Maybe you can cut back further on payroll and hope your people will still come to work. You can’t save money by cutting frivolous things like safety equipment because unlike me, you never made any such purchases. Ensuring any product safety just adds cost to your product and makes it harder to compete for contracts. You’d certainly like that contract with Disney though…

What do you do?

You haven’t had any fun yet nor have you made any money.

You know it’s possible, but maybe you’re just not cut out to be a manufacturer in China. That’s okay, neither am I.

Maybe you’d like to own an American business and outsource your manufacturing. That role comes with many perks. That could be fun. You see, if you outsource production, you can trade labor & material costs for a massive profit margin. Nice.
Retailers love that margin and they'll throw consumers a dollar or three in savings to bait them into buying something imported over something domestic. Your products will get a ton of shelf space.

Go ahead and arrange that fitting for new suits at the tailor. Check out the Hamptons and choose from the many available homes. Select a designer and get the boardroom redecorated.

You'll make lots of money in business and that's what counts, right? You can nail the American dream. Who would have guessed that the path to the American dream ran through China? You'll be part of the global economy and you can have a nice office building with an American flag flying out front.

The likelihood exists that one of your products will one day be recalled, but given your massive profits, you'll be able to handle the loss from such an event.

Would that role suit you?

You don’t have to wonder at all if I envy someone in that role because if I did I would have outsourced my own production.

You know, there’s a reader I lost earlier when they decided in favor of lead pigment. I lost another reader who would have crossed their fingers when they bought paint for their toys. I lost yet another reader who is daydreaming about grand homes in the Hamptons.

I’m left only with you, someone who hasn't yet found a role that suits them in this exercise.

Welcome brother. Come have a seat by me because it’s clear that you have what it takes to be an American manufacturer. Let me tell you about the role. You won’t make massive amounts of money but if you work hard you can make a good living. In addition to income, you’ll have wonderful people who work with you daily and help you succeed in business. You’ll view them not as an expense, but as family.

You'll make decisions that serve you in the long term, not the short term since you're building a business for this generation and the next.

You’ll have to deal at times with retailers that can be downright hostile to your products because of their smaller profit margin, but you’ll take great pride in the products you produce.

You’ll sleep well and contentedly at night except when you worry about competitors foreign made products because you know where they cut corners.

When shoppers question you about your products, you can tell them honestly that quality and safety matter to you because your actions prove it every day. Any time you like you can leave your desk and step out on the shop floor. Keep your eyes and ears open because the same people with hands on your product can offer tips and ideas that you can use.

An especially good part is the customers. You’ll come to treasure them because they’re the ones who value what you produce. You’ll come to recognize their names and faces because they return so often to do business with you. You’ll be thankful that at no point in your lifetime will you likely look one of these people in the eye and apologize because your product harmed one of their family members.

You’ll also get to set up a special file. It’s not for complaints, no, it’s for those hand written letters from your customers. You’ll be surprised and flattered whenever you receive them, yet, there they’ll be with expressions of gratitude. Yep. You’ll get them and treasure them as well. You might even have them framed so they can adorn your office walls because you consider them the most prestigious awards you won this year.

You and I can laugh at those rewarded only with dollars and who don’t realize that ethics and values are very much a part of smart business. We’ll agree that the American way is the very thing we should
export in the global economy.

Outside your plant, you’ll likely fly the American flag. You might even raise it yourself in the morning. You’ll know the same as I that the path to the American dream doesn't run through China. You’ll recognize everything that is right and just about that flag flying outside your door. It’s fitting for everyone whose love of country is greater than their love of money.

Mary - A proud American manufacturer and web person for

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

American Manufacturers Shop With You For Made in USA Products

Who might you think, first and foremost is most supportive of American manufacturing? I ask the question because I suspect that most consumers who shop for Made in USA products, don't realize who is shopping with them.

I've mentioned that for the past 3 decades I've been an ardent consumer of US made products. My home is filled with domestic goods, as is my business.

The boxes and shipping tape I purchase for our shipping department - Made in USA. The desks, chairs, paper, envelopes, pens, binders, etc. that I purchase for our office - Made in USA. I also purchase product material, some of which is recycled - Made in USA. Equipment & tools that I purchase such as fire extinguishers and hand trucks - Made in USA. Our company vehicles are union Made in USA. My business buys US made products whenever possible.

Are my shopping & purchasing habits unusual for an American manufacturer? Goodness, no, they are commonplace.

There is more to this than American manufacturers acting in support of our beloved country and each other, it's also a cost effective business practice. American manufacturers, like consumers, want products that deliver value. Don't show us something cheap and shoddy that we'll only need to replace in three months. We want dependability and quality. We understand well why an imported product may come at a slight savings, so we'll happily spend the difference to obtain quality and safety.

There is another consideration. Who would understand manufacturing processes if not manufacturers. We know well why lead & toxins are found in so many foreign made products.

We know that 98% of recalled products are foreign made and that about 90% are made in China. We know that most consumers never learn of recalled goods. We know that most recalled products are never returned to stores and instead remain in homes and businesses.

Like you, we have no desire to expose our children, grandchildren, customers, employees, pets or ourselves to the dangers of substandard products.

There is a very nice symmetry at play here in that the very same things we seek for our businesses & households, namely quality, safety, value & dependability, are the very same things we offer to consumers with our own products.

When you next visit our site, keep in mind that we're shopping with you. And don't be surprised if perhaps one of Mattel's VP's is shopping right along with us.

Mary - web person for

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Country of Origin Labeling on Meat Products

New labeling requirements for meat products are now in effect which should hopefully better inform consumers about the origin of meat offered to them in stores.

One contributor to our site lives in a state that shares a border with Mexico. He phoned today with concerns about labeling he saw on a package of ground beef he found at a Walmart store. It might be helpful then to review the guidelines for this new labeling. If you shop for meat products of US origin, you need to check for this particular labeling:

Muscle Cut Labels

United States Origin - only meat from livestock that are born, raised and processed in the US may say "Product of the US."

Ground Meat Product Labels

United States Origin - only meat from livestock that are born, raised and processed into ground meat in the US may say "Product of the US."

What that contributor discovered of concern to him was a package of ground beef that was labeled, "Product of USA, Canada, Mexico" He asked if he should believe that the beef in the package came from all three countries.

I explained to him the problem I saw with the new regulations as they pertain to ground meat. It's possible that this package actually contains beef from all three countries, and it might also contain beef from just two countries; perhaps Mexico and Canada. It's also possible that this package actually contains beef sourced only from Mexico but was produced in a US plant that typically also sources raw materials from Canada and the US for other products.

Unfortunately, the consumer still won't know the country of origin from such a label. Ground beef may be sourced from different countries to be processed in one US plant and the label need only reflect the countries from which the company typically sourced its raw materials for products over the past few months.

In the US we also typically source leaner beef from grass fed livestock from New Zealand & Australia, countries that may be listed on some labels of ground beef.

We also import young cattle from Mexico & Canada to be fed & fattened in the US. Meat products from such cattle will carry multiple countries of origin on their labels.

If the consumer desires a truly domestic meat product, they will need to seek the "Product of the US" label.

The phone conversation I had with this contributor was overheard by shoppers in the Walmart store. At the end of our conversation he told me that nearby shoppers had removed packages of meat from their carts and returned them to the meat case. He, and perhaps the nearby shoppers, had concerns that the ground beef offered at this Walmart store was likely sourced from Mexico and produced in a plant that also processes meat from the US and Canada.

Unfortunately, the new label does nothing to designate the actual country of origin of ground beef for consumers.

After shoppers decided against their meat purchases, our contributor was asked to leave the store by Walmart personnel. While I've proudly never set foot in a Walmart store, he is quite accustomed to such treatment. He's learned repeatedly that Walmart does not like information sharing with their customers, even accidental sharing from overheard cell phone conversations.

It could be the new country of origin labeling is an improvement but not yet satisfactory for consumers, at least with ground meat products.

Sources for domestic meat & seafood products can be found in our Gourmet Food/Drink department.

Mary - Web person for