Traffic is up at retail meat departments, even if some of the routes have changed. That’s a key conclusion from the 18th annual “Power of Meat” report published by the Meat Institute and FMI—The Food Industry Association.
Released on March 6, the first day of the Annual Meat Conference event in Dallas, the report conducted by 210 Analytics found that shoppers are purchasing more meat now than they did before COVID-19, even as they are mindful of high inflation and adjusting some of their buying habits. For example, more than three in four consumers (76%) report that they are mixing up the amount, type, cut and/or brand of meat that they buy or have shopped at another store or site to stick to their budget. Today’s consumers are also looking for coupons and stocking up when meat is on sale.
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These and other findings from the latest "Power of Meat" report reinforce consumers’ ongoing taste for animal-based proteins. More than 78% of consumers describe themselves as meat eaters versus the 7% of self-identifying vegans or vegetarians. Meat products have a 98.3% household penetration, and a near-overwhelming 87% of meals prepared at home contain a portion of meat or poultry. Even as inflation hit the retail meat case, only 16% of shoppers said that they are saving money by cooking more meatless meals.
Grocers keen on providing the amount and variety that meat-eating shoppers want can also gain value from this core consumer base. This year’s "Power of Meat" research shows that consumers typically spend more than $15 in the meat department per trip. Indeed, this remains a big category: The "Power of Meat" affirms that meat rings up $87.1 billion in sales, with sales up 5.7% in 2022 compared to the previous year.
Still, traditional retail meat departments should bear in mind there is growing competition for the shopper meat department. The latest report reveals that supercenters, warehouse clubs and online outlets gained share last year, with Millennials driving many sales in those channels.
“The research tells us that we’re seeing a more price-conscious shopper, but we’re also witnessing shoppers seeking ‘simple pleasures’ and that’s one area among others where the meat department can delight,” summed up Rick Stein, VP of fresh foods at FMI. “For example, shoppers concerned about food prices might opt to splurge on an at-home date-night meal. Food retailers can best serve today’s shoppers by emphasizing value-added meat options and catering to shoppers with meal solutions.”
Added Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the Meat Institute: “Meat continues to meet the needs of American families, across a wide range of priorities and preferences. Shoppers count on meat for quality, taste, convenience, and value.”