CHICAGO – Decades in meat marketing have provided Midan Marketing the knowledge base to make a few predictions for 2021. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic plays a critical role in how the firm sees trends in the industry for the coming year. Following is a list of what Midan believes lays in store.

  1. Continued and increased focus on health and wellness – The pandemic has ramped up consumer concern and interest in healthier eating. The meat industry can take advantage by accentuating meat’s protein and essential nutrient benefits messaging in marketing and advertising.
  2. Continued improvement of eCommerce – Multiple surveys, notably Midan’s September 2020 COVID-19 survey, show more than one-third of meat consumers say their primary method of purchasing meat will be online after COVID-19.
  3. Automation and technology in the plant – COVID-19 exposed the fragility of the meat supply chain and its dependency on a human workforce. Packers and processors will invest more in technologies to supplement and replace the human employee. Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms are also being tested to safeguard against labor gaps.
  4. Greater emphasis on shopper demographics – Meat industry executives will take a deeper look at consumers of varying ages and different cultures and attempt to create shopping opportunities and a wider range of protein offerings for today’s diverse meat consumers.
  5. Further exploration of alternative proteins – To keep traditional meat on the plate, packers will need to focus on better understanding the purchase drivers of flexitarians who are meat eaters, but replace meat with vegetable- or plant-based proteins as a main dish daily or several times a week.
  6. A clearer definition of sustainability – Because sustainability means different things to different people and can be unclear, the meat industry will be challenged. It will need to responsibly address the range of issues that fall under the sustainability umbrella like climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, animal welfare, transparency, carbon footprint and zero waste, as well as tell a cohesive story to our meat consumers.
  7. More consumer demand for value – With unemployment still a concern moving into the new year, consumers will try to stretch their budgets by looking for value options in the meat case. Midan predicts price-conscious offerings like bulk packaging and commodity proteins to do well.
  8. Rise in demand for premium – A September 2020 study from Midan showed 54% of consumers seeking out their idea of healthier, claims-based meat and chicken. Also, organic, grass-fed and no antibiotics claims-based beef volume sales grew approximately three times faster than general beef sales between mid-March and the end of October, according to IRI POS Syndicated data.
  9. Consumers will continue to cook at home – Midan’s October 2020 COVID-19 survey confirms consumers planning to eat at restaurants less often after the pandemic believe cooking at home is a better value and health proposition, and they’ve gotten used to it.
  10. Relationships in the industry will lead to success – Strong relationships across the supply chain helped the industry respond more cohesively to the crisis, as COVID-19 demonstrated. In the light of automation, solid relationships focused on meat customers will advance the industry.