These days, convenience also grabs consumers’ attention at the beef point of sale. “It’s important for meat cases to have options,” notes Harrison. “Portion-cut products, as well as pre-seasoned and marinated proteins, are convenient and deliver consistency in serving size and quality. They also eliminate the prep work for a consumer, which is a huge value.”
As retailers diversify their beef offerings, they’re also adding products aimed at mindful consumers. “Modern consumers are definitely becoming increasingly invested in knowing more about their beef,” affirms Coley, citing One World Beef’s programs, which also include an all-natural single-source line from Brandt Beef and an organic grass-fed line from Imperial Valley Organics.
Harrison also points to the rise in food-conscious shoppers. “Another consumer to watch is the shopper, who, despite rising costs, is still looking for products with natural and claims-based messaging,” he says. “In recent years, consumers have been transitioning to meats with ‘no hormones,’ ‘no antibiotics’ and ‘humanely raised’ claims.” One Tyson product line that addresses such preferences, he adds, is the Open Prairie Natural Meats portfolio featuring beef products that are minimally processed, with no artificial ingredients.
Likewise, New Zealand producer Silver Fern Farms has found that the market for grass-fed beef is growing. “It’s gone from commodity to good for you, and now good for the environment,” recounts Matt Luxton, the company’s global strategic sales manager. “Grass-fed was about 5% of the market about six years ago, and now we are talking 10% to 12% of the retail environment. Grass-fed buyers also tend to have a bigger basket than the average consumer buying commodity beef.” Luxton notes that Silver Fern Farms’ products are currently distributed to more than 1,600 U.S. retailers.
Silver Fern Farms recently began selling Net Carbon Zero by Nature branded grass-fed beef New York strip steaks, Angus ribeye steaks and premium ground beef to stores in New York City and Los Angeles, and is planning to expand distribution in the coming months. “Net carbon zero beef is a big step forward ,and we are a bit ahead of the pack on that, with our connection with farmers,” says Luxton.
Grass Fed Foods, a Loveland, Colo.-based platform that brings together grass-fed category leaders Teton Waters Ranch and SunFed Ranch, has also seen interest in grass-fed beef skyrocket. “For many younger consumers, everything they purchase has higher standards,” notes CEO Jeff Tripician. “Whether it is regenerative, pasture-raised, free-range, antibiotic-free, organic, grass-fed, no sugar or Certified Humane — all of these standards and certifications are now part of the purchase lexicon of the young consumer. On the flip side, older consumers are driven more by food as a prescription for what ails them, so brands and foods that speak to their personal health-and-wellness goals translate more than those focused on animal welfare or climate. Claims like no antibiotics, no sugar and gluten-free drive this subset of the beef consumer.”