As consumers further tailor their diets to the latest health and wellness trends, 39 percent of red meat-eaters report consuming less in 2013 than they did in 2012, according to new research from Mintel. Yet 90 percent say they eat at least some kind of red meat at least once per month.
Patty Johnson, global food analyst at Mintel, says that “health trends motivating consumers to cut fat and cholesterol intake are by far the most dominant factors affecting the red meat market.”
"While some consumers are turning away from red meat, in favor of healthier alternatives, there are still a staggering amount of Americans who partake on a regular basis,” Johnson added. “For many of those who are cutting back they are very well trading up to a higher quality meat product."
Indeed, 16 percent of those who report cutting back on red meat are eating less, but higher-quality red meat, which, according to Johnson, creates a lucrative marketing opportunity.
Obstacles in the Meat Category
While health concerns are the top reason consumers are cutting back on red meat, price is also a hot-button issue. More than half (58 percent) of consumers say they have noticed the price of red meat increasing in the past 12 months, and 36 percent say it is too expensive to buy as often as they would like.
Additionally, innovation in the meat category has been low for several years, finds Mintel, yet innovation in packaging presents an opportunity for meat manufacturers, particularly to appeal to women. In fact, more than one-third (35 percent) of women would like to see more resealable packaging, 26 percent say they want individual-sized portions, and 23 percent want recipe options on the package.
"The red meat category is facing a difficult future, as both health trends and price are working to discourage consumer demand for red meat products,” Johnson concluded. “The industry also has done little to innovate since the recession and therefore has offered consumers little to get excited about. This presents an opportunity for the industry to try to invigorate the market with new products, improved quality and improved functionality.”