KANSAS CITY, MO. – Despite tough economic times for many Americans, consumer demand remains high for premium cuts of meat sold at grocery retail, and the nation’s top suppliers are rolling out new products to meet it.
This summer, Tyson Fresh Meats, a division of Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods, celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Chairman’s Reserve Meats, the company’s line of premium fresh beef and pork products.
Around the same time, two products in the line, Premium Pork Tenderloin and Prime Pork Tenderloin, received “heart healthy” certifications from the American Heart Association.
More news from Tyson Fresh Meats and Chairman’s Reserve is on the horizon, said Ozlem Worpel, Tyson Fresh Meat’s director of fresh meats.
“We have some exciting news in the works and can’t wait to share more when the time is right,” Worpel said. “We’re looking forward to continuing to provide the same robust dual-tier, dual-protein premium portfolio that customers and consumers trust for a consistent, exceptional eating experience.”
Tyson Fresh Meats has seen an evolution in consumer behavior since the onset of COVID, Worpel said.
And much of it is surprising.
“While it’s true that some have been seeking out more affordable cuts of meat than they’d normally buy, consumers are also continuing to experiment with new-to-them brands and cuts of meat,” she said. “Additionally, people who miss dining out and are looking to elevate their in-home experience are turning to trusted brands like Chairman’s Reserve Meats to deliver on that promise.”
Shoppers are regaining confidence, Worpel added, that fresh meat will be in stock, and the industry seems to have entered a “new normal” as once-unfamiliar grocery shopping precautions become routine.
“If this year has taught us anything, it’s that the future is unpredictable,” she said. “But what we do know is that the current situation won’t last forever. We’re looking forward to a bright future and continuing our partnership with retailers across the country to offer consumers the high-quality, flavorful protein they demand.”
Arkansas City, Kan.-based Creekstone Farms only sells premium products, and most of the company’s retail customers carry the full lineup from chucks to rounds, said Dan Stewart, marketing director.
Creekstone’s product mix has been fairly steady in recent years, but as more and more consumers experiment with barbecue and smoking meats, demand for highly graded end cuts like short ribs, briskets and skirts has increased at retail, Stewart said.
Creekstone’s most recognized items sold at retail currently are ribeyes, filets, porterhouses, skirts, ribs, briskets and signature blends of ground beef, he added.
One trend Creekstone is tapping into more is value-added, a category that has seen an uptick in quality in recent years, Stewart said.
“Especially overseas, the consumer wants to know the quality of the product hasn’t been impacted from source to shelf,” he said. “Creekstone has been continually investing in equipment and process to provide more retail-ready items in steaks, ground beef, and ready-to-cook products and plans to expand the line this coming year.”
During COVID, demand for premium products temporarily took a backseat to demand for anything available, but as the industry has begun to emerge from pandemic restrictions, Creekstone is seeing a sharp increase in inquiries and demand for our premium products.
“The consumer who learned about us through an ecommerce purchase or experienced our product at a restaurant, now wants that same level of quality week in and week out at retail,” he said. “They want a brand they can trust, with a reputation based on years of rigorous standards rather than brands that simply showed up during the pandemic with little or no authenticity.”
People who choose to go out for a meal at a nice restaurant these days, Stewart added, aren’t doing it for a mediocre steak and cheap experience. If they’re going to risk their health to venture out, they want to enjoy excellent customer service and a premium meal that they couldn’t get at home.
In time, that behavior will translate to retail, he said.
“We think that will change when consumers begin seeking out those higher quality products in their local retail stores to replicate those meals at home. Taste, flavor, reputation — they all play a factor in the customer’s selection at the meat case.”
Meat counter experiences
“It’s an exciting time in the industry for development of premium products, thanks to the creativity of suppliers and retailers alike, said Amari Seiferman, president and CEO of Kansas City, Mo.-based Certified Hereford Beef.
“We have seen meat counters becoming more adventurous in adding value and offering more pre-marinated and seasoned meat for meal kits, kebabs and other products,” she said. “The industry also is getting more creative in the names used to merchandise products, which has garnered more attention for certain cuts.”
Certified Hereford Beef’s brand lineup includes a full program of end cuts, middle meats, grinds and patties. Certified Hereford also offers value-added products including deli meat, RTE prime rib and beef franks. And the program supports its retail partners with an online partner portal and instore support to help drive store sales.
Seasonality is a driving force behind top sellers, Seiferman said. Other factors that play a role in sales include convenience, geography and an understanding of how to prepare the product.
In addition, meat is becoming more of an ingredient, and recipes and videos help show how easy and fun it is to work with the product.
That point has really been driven home during the pandemic, Seiferman said.
“Since there is an increase in eat-at-home experiences, consumers want to feel confident they will have consistency with the meat they purchase,” she said. “Tight specifications with the Certified Hereford Beef program help provide that consistency and keep the consumer repurchasing and trying new product.”
COVID has given consumers the opportunity to try different cuts as they work to recreate their favorite restaurant meals at home, Seiferman added.
People are figuring out how to incorporate these cuts into their meals in unique and long-lasting ways.
“We anticipate this trend will continue as consumer education about meat has been enhanced and they have searched and found new resources to help them in their journey of enjoying red meat.”
Consumers also are becoming more engaged in where their meat comes from and there has been an increase in the direct-from-farms movement, she added. That means that transparency at the meat department will continue to gain in importance.
Pre rolls out center-cut beef tenderloin
Chicago-based Pre Brands, a provider of 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef from Australia and New Zealand, is rolling out a premium cut just for the holidays.
The company’s new Center-Cut Beef Tenderloin Roast will be available nationwide. The product is 28 ounces with an SRP of $49.99. It comes with consumer tips for preparation, serving suggestions, and recipe ideas right on the package, such as Horseradish and Garlic Crusted Tenderloin and Tenderloin with a Classic Pan Sauce.
“Whether consumers are spending holidays quietly with only immediate family or hosting a larger celebration, they’ll be craving something special this year,” said Kevin Ponticelli, chief executive officer of Pre Brands. “Culinary-minded home cooks and better-for-you customers are interested in pursuing high-end restaurant quality in their own kitchens. Pre Center-Cut Beef Tenderloin is the premium centerpiece of the holiday dinner table.”
Pre beef is farmed in Australia and New Zealand, where cows graze on thousands of acres of nutrient-rich pastures year-round. With a mild climate and lush pastures, Australia and New Zealand have the highest standards in the world for grazing and certification. Pre beef is cut, trimmed or ground and packaged for nationwide distribution in Chicago.