MEAT CONFERENCE REPORT: Taking a look at the 'Power of Meat'

by Kimberlie Clyma
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FMI/NAMI Power of Meat study
Companies and the meat industry are constantly looking at the latest trends for new old consumers.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – “One size fits no one.” That was the underlying message delivered by Anne-Marie Roerink at the Annual Meat Conference’s annual presentation of the Power of Meat study. The survey, conducted for the 11th year by 210 Analytics, LLC, in partnership with The Cryovac Brand, a part of Sealed Air’s Food Care Division, takes a close look at the meat department, meat purchasing decisions and consumption trends through the eyes of the shopper.

Data for the report was collected through an online survey of a sample of 1,360 US shoppers around the country.

Top findings of the annual study include that “promotions are key to solidifying sales among primary shoppers and attracting patrons of other channels.” Forty-seven percent of shoppers decide to purchase meat or poultry items at their chosen locations of purchase before they even head to the store. Seventy-eight percent of those check promotions at their primary store and 58 percent compare stores, promotions and prices. Shoppers continue to look in ad circulars for deals but digital shopping is on the rise and retailers need to start considering that more if they want to reach today’s shopper.

Millennials matter

Millennials continue to be sought after for meat marketers. They have a tendency to shop all of their groceries, including meat and poultry products, at different channels (including farmers’ markets, dollar stores, farm-direct and online), so there’s an ongoing need to understand this group of shoppers to better serve their changing purchasing and consumption habits.

“We’re not gaining dollars from the millennial shopper at the same rate that we’re losing dollars from Boomer shoppers,” Roerink explained. “We need to figure out how to sell to them.”

Price continues to be the driving factor in meat purchases, more specifically price per pound. Product appearance fell to third place from previous years. With millennials, total package price was most important.

One of the mega trends in the Power of Meat survey, in addition to many other presentations during the three-day Meat Conference in Nashville, was consumers’ desire for transparency when it comes to the foods they purchase and eat. “Consumers are constantly saying ‘I should have a right to know about the products I’m buying.’” Roerink said. There continues to be high interest in different meat segments such as antibiotic-free, grass-fed, hormone-free, natural and organic, but for many of the shoppers the interest in those products doesn’t translate into purchases when they are faced with higher price points. There’s almost a 44 percent price differential between conventional and organic products.

The desire for transparency provides an ideal opportunity for retailers to open up communication lines with their consumers. “There are a lot of uninformed consumers out there,” Roerink said. “It’s important for us to try to communicate with them.”

Roerink advised retailers to be proactive, be interactive, educate, explain your position and work with trade associations when it comes to communicating with consumers about the production process and meat products in general.

Shopper satisfaction

The satisfaction with the meat shopping experience continues to be high — mostly in the areas of cleanliness and freshness or appearance of the products. However, the satisfaction tends to go down later in the day. The satisfaction with the meat department shopping experience at the start of the day is 4.17 (on a 6-point scale), and it drops to 3.86 by the end of the day. This can have immediate consequences on the shopper’s basket size and potential long-term effects in terms of shopper loyalty, which underscores the importance on keeping the meat department clean, stocked and well-staffed throughout the day.

The study results showed that having available, friendly and well-informed associates working in the meat department can be a big differentiator in which store they choose to frequent. However, shoppers still look to other resources when looking for meal ideas or information on meat — 41 percent of those surveyed go to websites and social media first. Next they go to mom (25 percent), then to cookbooks (13 percent) and only 7 percent will consult their local meat department employee. This is a huge opportunity for retailers, Roerink said. “Employees can be a great loyalty driver.”

The study showed that six out of 10 shoppers in 2015 changed their meat and poultry purchases by spending more, less or spending differently. Cents off per pound continues to be the top preference when it comes to discounts when purchasing meat. Next was meat and poultry buy one, get one (BOGO) deals, followed by buying in bulk.

The majority of shoppers — 82 percent — agreed that meat and poultry are important to a balanced diet as sources of protein and other nutrients (although there is lower agreement among Millennial shoppers).

Commenting on the results of the study, NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter said, “Meat and poultry remain shoppers’ go-to source for protein and essential nutrients. The industry is working hard to respond to consumer demands for transparency, and is continuing to offer a variety of convenient, flavorful and nutritious fresh and processed products to an increasingly diverse consumer base, particularly with regards to Millennial shoppers, whose influence is growing at retail.”

According to Roerink, the underlying message of this year’s study was that “success starts and ends with meeting shopper needs.” In addition she reminded retailers:

• One size fits no one
• To identify pockets of growth that match your shoppers
• The in-store experience is crucial
• To create differentiated offerings by telling the story.

The Power of Meat presentation wrapped up the Annual Meat Conference which took place at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville from Feb. 21-23. The conference is hosted each year by the Food Marketing Institute and North American Meat Institute. Next year’s conference will be at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas from Feb. 19-21.

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