Power of Meat report
The Power of Meat annual study of thousands of retail meat consumers showed that meat matters when shopping.

It’s tradition for results from the annual study of thousands of retail meat consumers, the Power of Meat, to be shared at the Annual Meat Conference, which took place this year in Dallas on Feb. 19-21. While not too much changed since the previous year’s report, the results showed that meat matters when shopping. Processors and retailers are wise to invest in innovation in terms of product and marketing to keep meat on the menu.

Anne-Marie Roerink, 210 Analytics
Anne-Marie Roerink, principal of 210 Analytics

“We have to get meat right,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal of 210 Analytics LLC, San Antonio, Texas.

Meat remains an enormously powerful category and a top three-driver of store choice. The report indicates that meat delivers nearly $50 billion in sales while driving trips and basket size. To sustain growth, it is imperative that retailers create a differentiated meat department targeted to their shopper audience. This requires a keen understanding of the consumer and innovative product offerings from processors. If the meat case doesn’t deliver, consumers will look elsewhere for meal solutions.

For instance, while meat and poultry products are a part of many dinners, either as an ingredient in a dish or as a center-of-plate protein, meat alternatives are competing for share of plate and gaining traction. The survey results showed that consumers are attracted to meat alternatives for a number of reasons, including variety, nutrition, ease of preparation and cost, with variety being the most common reason.

To-Jo Mushrooms
Value-added products speak to several trends including flavor adventure, international cuisine and convenience. (photo: To-Jo Mushrooms)

Meat and poultry can compete on these attributes, but currently is not doing a very good job of it. While the meat case offers an abundance of variety and lean/nutritious options across proteins and cuts, buying unfamiliar meat and poultry items has a much higher trial barrier than other new food experiences, according to the study.

This presents an opportunity for meal kits and meal solutions merchandised in the meat and deli departments. Offering grab-and-go, ready-to-prepare dinner solutions featuring fresh meat and poultry appealed to 53 percent of respondents. More aggressively marketing for secondary holidays or creating meat-inspired events may be another way to drive incremental dollars and volume, with 27 percent of shoppers interested in quality, total meal solutions for holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. (Read this month’sInterview with Carol Falkowskifor holiday-inspired meatloaf ideas.)

Value-added meat and poultry products are also an opportunity for future growth. This segment is driven by a core user group of high-income and convenience-seeking shoppers. The survey defined value-added meat and poultry as items that are pre-marinated, pre-cut or pre-seasoned, such as kabobs, meatloaf, meat balls or pre-marinated chicken wings. Value-added products speak to several trends that are driving growth in other food categories. This includes flavor adventure, international cuisine and the importance of convenience.

Tyson Foods premium pork products

Meat and poultry with special attributes or claims are steadily growing. (photo: Tyson Foods)

Value-added also includes meat and poultry with special attributes or claims, such as organic, natural, grass-fed, antibiotic-free and hormone free. Though such products are only a small percentage of overall sales, they are steadily growing. The study showed that millennials are drivers of growth for natural and organic, as well as items that bring something new and different. Attributes that draw high interest across all ages are hormone-free, raised locally and grass-fed.

Finally, packaging increasingly is an influencer of purchase, and therefore should be considered during the product development process. All shoppers value ease-of-use and cleanliness when it comes to packaging, while smaller households prefer pre-portioned and smaller meal sizes packages.

Here are the Top 10 findings of the Power of Meat 2017: 

1. The paper circular is losing relevance to in-store and digital/social, but the concept of promotional activity remains crucial.
2. Price per pound has the greatest purchase influence, and price relief is driving increased volume and premiumization.
3. Brands are one of the strongest stories in both fresh and processed meat/poultry, particularly among millennials.
4. Consumers are looking for the story of meat, and special attributes are seeing growing shopper uptake and sales.
5. Improved shopper outreach can help foster high levels of satisfaction and drive spending and loyalty.
6. Meat and poultry items are slowly returning to the dinner plate, but the quest for variety is driving regular use of protein alternatives.
7. Thoughtful curation of the meatcase tailored to shopper needs, trends and innovation can drive incremental sales.
8. Selling meat as part of a total meal solution prompts interest for everyday and seasonal meal occasions.
9. Trip trends and the growing popularity of alternative channels emphasize the importance of shopper relevance.
10.Convenient meat and poultry is poised for growth, but it’s important to actively address quality and freshness perceptions.