Rethink Meat in Meal Occasions: 'Power of Meat' Report

Rethink Meat in Meal Occasions: 'Power of Meat' Report
An infographic from the "Power of Meat 2019" report from FMI and NAMI

Food retailers and their meat supplier partners should align their thinking with shoppers who considers their meat purchase as a meal occasion and not necessarily relegated to one area of the store, analysis from the "Power of Meat 2019" report has found. The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education, the foundation for the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) released the 14th annual exploration of how to best optimize meat and poultry’s role in today’s food culture.

Consumers increasingly shop across the full meat offering, from the meat case and counter, to the frozen aisle and deli. Across all departments, convenience-focused meat and poultry saw robust growth in 2018, including value-added (up 5.1 percent), fully cooked (up 2.5 percent) and frozen (up 2.2 percent). Due to this, retailers and suppliers need to consider new ways to help shoppers plan multiple meal meat purchases. Currently, 40 percent of shoppers buy meat/poultry for meals to cover several days; 35 percent buy more than they need to freeze and use over time; and 23 percent, particularly Gen Z and younger Millennials, buy meat and poultry for one meal at a time.

The industry also needs to embrace digital promotions, as the printed circular is no longer the most frequently used promotional platform. The print ad is surpassed by checking in-store promotional signage. Digital, social and mobile are growing as well, such as a digital version of the traditional circular (up 38 percent), in-store app (up 24 percent) and social media deals (up 12 percent).

New ways are needed to engage the shopper. According to the survey, while 52 percent of shoppers decide on what they’ll purchase in-store, 23 percent decide long before setting foot in the meat department.

“The trends point to opportunities for retailers and the suppliers to collaborate on ways to both educate and inspire our shoppers,” said FMI VP, Fresh Foods, Rick Stein. “The onus is on us to turn the ordinary into extraordinary, as 74 percent of shoppers are looking for something as simple as flipping routine meals that they already know how to cook into a different culinary experience.”

Importance of Health

Health has permeated the entire grocery store, and the meat department is no exception. Consumers are increasingly interested in understanding what's in their food, who made it and how it was produced. In the meat department, two-thirds of shoppers look for better-for-me items, and around three in 10 look for products that are better for the planet, farmers, workers or animals.

Eighty-six percent of U.S. shoppers surveyed describe themselves as meat eaters, but the data suggests a younger generation is increasingly reporting a "flexitarian" regime, categorized as a mostly vegetarian diet with occasional meat and poultry consumption. For instance, among Generation Z, 13 percent eat a flexitarian diet versus just 6 percent of Boomers. Women, at 15 percent, are also more likely to be flexitarians than men, at 6 percent.

Surprisingly, meat doesn't seem to benefit from increased consumer interest in protein, as many are unaware of meat’s high protein content. Shoppers reported being open to blended alternatives such as beef and mushroom burgers, with 63 percent saying that they would “maybe” or “definitely” purchase blended meat-and-plant items.

Greater Importance of Transparency

Retailers and suppliers have a great opportunity for consumer education when it comes to transparency of where meat comes from, as Americans take a variety of meat-purchasing considerations into account, including those having to do with the environment, animal welfare and their own health.

“The meat industry has used many digital tools such as its MyMeatUp app to help shoppers choose products that fit their lifestyle and interests,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “The findings underscore the need for ongoing efforts to not only share the many choices available in the meat case, but also continuing to innovate and focus on areas for improvement to further grow consumer trust.”

"The Power of Meat" was conducted by 210 Analytics and is made possible by Sealed Air’s Food Care Division.