Meat Shoppers Look to Digital for Preparation Ideas

Annual report provides info on consumer shopping and cooking habits
Meat Shoppers Look to Digital for Preparation Ideas
Infographic from this year's "Power of Meat" study from FMI and The North American Meat Institute.

The 17th annual “Power of Meat” report from FMI – The Food Industry Association and The North American Meat Institute, reveals that almost all American households – 98.5% – buy meat, a trend backed by an increase in volume sales by 3.9% for all meat, compared with pre-pandemic levels. According to the report, this rise is attributable in part to several grocery shopper trends stemming from the pandemic, among them increased home cooking, record-high online shopping, and a shift to digital sources for recipe inspiration.

“The ‘Power of Meat’ shows Americans continue to count on meat’s taste, quality, convenience and value throughout another unusual and challenging year,” noted Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Meat Institute. “The Meat Institute and partners in the Protein PACT for the People, Animals and Climate of Tomorrow will continue to deliver information and innovation for the 98.5% of American households that purchase meat, continuously working to support healthy families, healthy communities, healthy animals and a healthy planet.” 

The report found that 74% of Americans describe themselves as meat eaters. While meat department visits dipped slightly this past year (50.4 visits per shopper), shoppers spent a little more on each trip. In response to higher prices and inflation pressures, shoppers are eating out and ordering in from foodservice less frequently, instead trying to recreate restaurant experiences at home, and have changed their retail meat purchase habits. However, volume remains considerably above pre-pandemic levels for fresh (up 3.7% since 2019) and prepared meats (up 4.3% since 2019). Fresh beef volume rose almost 5% since 2019 while bacon grew 7% and fresh lamb sales jumped nearly 20%. More meat consumers shopped online than ever – 61%, up from 39% in 2019 – and almost half of meat shoppers (46%) currently shop online regularly.

Americans now eat 80% of meals at home, down from 88% at the pandemic’s peak in April 2020, and 57% make four to seven dinners per week with meat. More than half of meat shoppers (51%) said that websites, apps and social media are their main resources for meat preparation advice. Of those who search online for meat cooking tips and ideas, 72% use Google or another search engine, and 57% use YouTube. Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok are especially big with Gen Z and Millennials: These social media platforms are used by around half of shoppers in those demographics for discovering meat prep inspiration. For instance, 53% of Gen Zers find meat inspiration on TikTok, versus just 4% of Boomers. The top three searches for all demographics are by type of meat, specific cuts, and specific prep methods like using an air fryer.

“Shoppers’ meat IQ is higher than ever, and the ‘Power of Meat’ shows they are looking for even more ways to purchase meat and get inspiration for preparing meals,” said Rick Stein, VP of fresh foods at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “Retailers are constantly working to give shoppers more choices in the meat department and further enhance in-store and online shopping options.” 

The study was conducted by San Antonio-based 210 Analytics on behalf of FMI and the Meat Institute’s Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education, a nonprofit organization created to identify strategies that enable the meat and poultry industry to produce better, safer products and to operate more efficiently.

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