2010 Meat Case Study reflects impact of recession

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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DUNCAN, S.C. – Significant changes have taken place in the retail meat case, according to the newly released results of the 2010 National Meat Case Study (NMCS), as retailers responded to evolving consumer needs since the last study took place in 2007.

Funded by Sealed Air’s Cryovac brand, The Beef Checkoff Program and the National Pork Board, this is the fourth audit in this research series that provides retailers and packer/processors information about meat merchandising trends in order to help them better reach their customers and increase fresh meat sales. The NMCS audit included information from 124 retail supermarkets and nine club stores in 51 metro markets across 31 states on various days and at random times. Texas Tech University conducted the bulk of the data collection, and First Stage Marketing provided data analysis.

Four major areas showed the most significant changes in the extensive audit of the nation’s meat case – an increase is store branding, consumer infromation on packaging has increased, case-ready products remain strong and an increase in products with “natural” claims -- illustrating how retailers have adapted to meet customer demand.

Perhaps the major story from the 2010 study involved branding. The percent of packages carrying a store brand grew to 36 percent, tripling since 2004. Store brands have increased significantly across all proteins.

Consumer information also increased as more packages include nutrition information (61 percent) and cooking instructions (39 percent). This year’s audit also captured packages that included country-of-origin labeling and bilingual labeling.

The total number of case-ready products in the meat case now represents 66 percent of packages. All proteins are either maintaining or increasing their percentage of case ready packages over previous audits. The percentage of products with a natural claim grew in 2010 to 32 percent, up 10 percentage points from 2004.

"The results from the 2010 NMCS give us great insight into the way the meat case has transformed over the past three years,” said Jerry Kelly, National Retail Account Manager for Sealed Air's Cryovac brand. “Our economy has gone through a great deal of change since we performed our last audit in 2007. As a result, these findings can help us to understand some of the implications of that change for the retail meat case,"

“This year’s National Meat Case Study showed some major shifts in how retailers are merchandising fresh meat product to their customers,” said Jarrod Sutton, assistant vice president of channel marketing for the National Pork Board. “As consumers continue to demand transparency and more information about the products they purchase, we expect to see these numbers shift even more in the coming years.”

“Another finding in the 2010 study was the increase in value/family packs across several proteins, as retailers met the needs of parents looking to feed their growing families on a budget,” said Jim Henger, executive director of marketing for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which contracts to manage retail programs for the beef checkoff.

These key findings represent only a small amount of the detailed information available in the entire 2010 NMCS. Additional information can be found in the executive summary, available at:
http://www.cryovac.com/na/en/ads/pdf/2010nationalmeatcasestudy.pdf.
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