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Meat in the supermarket is always an important trend to watch.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The dynamics of the supermarket meat case may not change dramatically from one year to the next, but examining trend data over a 13-year span shows significant changes, according to the National Meat Case Study, sponsored by Sealed Air Corp. Jerry Kelly, national business development manager for Sealed Air, presented results from the 2015 National Meat Case Study (NMCS) at a breakout session at the Annual Meat Conference in Nashville Feb. 22.

The Annual Meat Conference, hosted annually by the Food Marketing Institute and the North American Meat Institute, is taking place at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center through Feb. 23.

The “Dynamics of the Meat Case” session reviewed top-line results from the fifth installment of the NMCS, which was first conducted in 2002. According to Kelly, the objectives of the study were to take a comprehensive look at the US fresh meat case, build science-based trend analysis over time, identify changes in today’s meat case, reveal areas of opportunity and to supplement other industry research.

The research was conducted at 114 major supermarket chains, supercenters, club stores and small format retailers around the US. The scope of the research included a physical count and recording of attributes of the all the beef, pork, veal, chicken, turkey and lamb products in the meat case.

There was an average of 1,056 packages of meat and 2,046 lbs. of meat in the meat cases studied. The average protein count of the retailers surveyed was:

-          230 beef packages across 42 SKUs

-          172 ground beef packages across 17 SKUs

-          219 pork packages across 31 SKUs

-          303 chicken packages across 31 SKUs

-          96 turkey packages across 12 SKUs

Since the 2010 study, there has been a decline in the number of beef packages both in supermarkets and club stores – 25 percent in 2010 down to 22 percent in 2015 for supermarkets and 31 percent in 2010 down to 23 percent in 2015 for club stores.

Turkey, chicken and ground beef have gained a little of the linear feet of the fresh meat case over the other proteins. In 2010, turkey was 6 percent, now it’s 8 percent. The linear feet of meat case dedicated to chicken products was 27 percent in 2010 and is now at 28 percent. And for ground beef, there has been an increase from 12 percent in 2007 to 14 percent in 2010 to 15 percent in 2015.

Other observations from the study included:                               

-          An increase in the number of boneless meat products (not including ground meats) – from 59 percent in 2007 to 63 percent in 2010 to 67 percent in 2015.

-          A decline in the average pounds per package from 2.0 lbs. in 2010, to 1.9 lbs. in 2015.

-          There’s been a constant increase in production claims on meat packages. In 2010, 32 percent of products claimed to be natural, now it’s up to 38 percent. Organic claims have gone from 0.9 percent in 2010 to 3.8 percent in 2015.

-          Store branded meat products gained significantly from 2010 to 2015 – from 36 percent to 51 percent.

-          Case-ready products have increased for the total meat case – from 66 percent in 2010 to 76 percent in 2015.

According to Kelly, the top-line results, as well as the more detailed research analysis gained from examining the entire meat case study, all contribute to knowledge that can help retailers improve their own meat case strategies.