Reinforcing the Case

Faced with higher prices, tighter supplies, and ongoing frugal consumer spending patterns resulting from fewer store visits and less volume per trip, retail meat executives are performing a delicate balancing act to hone value-oriented tactics while enhancing premium offerings, as revealed in Progressive Grocer’s 2013 Meat Operations Review.

While commodity prices remained relatively stable for most categories during the annual meat department study’s 12-month measuring period, lingering high retail prices blunted discernible sales gains for most retailers responding to this year’s survey, particularly with the key department cash cow, beef. From smaller steaks to value-added convenience items and premium poultry offerings, retailers dug deep to defray drastic meat department declines, which by and large proved successful.

Insights gleaned for PG’s annual Meat Operations Review -- the full report of which appears in the February print edition -- were again tabulated from a survey fielded in late 2012 from the collective input of a diverse range of retail meat executives from around the country. In addition to polling a cross-section of national chain, regional and independent meat retailers about overall category performance and demand trends over the past year, the annual study provides a snapshot of benchmark sales and operations trends, inclusive of same-store sales and profits, top departmental challenges, and shifting retail meat demand patterns, among other factors.

A closer look at results of the latest retail meat department survey finds 42.1 percent of survey panelists estimating total meat department sales increases during 2012, with a sizably smaller 11.6 percent reporting decreases, rounded out by 46.3 percent reporting status quo meat sales, collectively good for a net 2.7 percent growth rate in overall department sales.

Retaining its near 20 percent share of the overall supermarket sales pie, total retail meat sales rang up an estimated $93.1 billion — roughly $2 million higher than the previous year’s survey.

Meat department profits, meanwhile, increased among 35.2 percent of survey respondents during the past year, while 28.4 percent of respondents reported lower profits. The highest percent of panelists (36.4) detected unchanged meat profits.

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