Washington, DC - Findings from an annual retail meat survey reveal that despite the recession meat consumption increased in 2009, but spending was down as shoppers gravitated toward cheaper cuts and prices decreased overall. According the the fifth annual joint study, the "Power of Meat," by the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute, 62 percent of shoppers whose household incomes were cut significantly altered their meat-buying habits, including eating more in-home cooked meals and eating out less. Sponsored by Sealed Air's Cryovac Food Packaging Division, fewer shoppers in the 2010 study (40 percent) reported changing the way they shopped compared to last year's 51 percent. 

In terms of marketing, in-store signage promoting sales was the biggest factor determining where shoppers buy meat, how much they buy and whether it's organic or conventional. According to the survey, shoppers to whom brand is unimportant is up to 74 percent for fresh meat and 62 percent for processed meat.

With 73 percent of all shoppers aware of case-ready meat, many believe the quality of pre-packaged meat and poultry is equal to or better than that cut and packaged in the store, according to the survey. Trust in case-ready meat translates into a median of 90 percent of meat and poultry purchases originating from the self-service case. The study indicated that one fourth of shoppers buy only case-ready meat.

Reasons for shoppers to use the full-service counter included the appeal  of specialty cuts, special occasions and quantities not available in the meat case. Shoppers refer to family gatherings, holidays, cookouts and other special occasions for using the full-service counter.

For more information on this year's study, go to: www.fmi.org .