WASHINGTON – Despite the cancellation of the 2022 Annual Meat Conference, one of the most popular presentations at the event each year, the Power of Meat report, delivered by Anne-Marie Roerink, principal of 210 Analytics, will be presented in a webinar format today (March 8) from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. EST. The virtual presentation, hosted by the North American Meat Institute and FMI – The Food Industry Association, is sponsored by Sealed Air. MEAT+POULTRY’s coverage of the webinar will be posted on www.meatpoultry.com on March 9.  

Some of the highlights Roerink will delve into in her summary include: purchase drivers in the meat department; how supply chain hiccups have affected retail meat purchases; the impact of social media and online options on consumers’ purchasing behavior; the role of full-service counters and meat department employees; consumer interest in alternative meat options; the role of sustainability, nutrition, sourcing information and processing and production practices in manufacturing meat products.

The report’s overview stated that while consumers’ trips to the meat department reached record levels in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, trips decreased in 2021, but remained elevated over pre-pandemic years. For the 52 weeks ended Nov. 28, 2020, inflation fueled an uptick in spending per trip in the meat department in 2021 to $14.51 (11.5% higher than two years prior).

Not surprisingly, compared to 2020, when consumers’ purchases spiked in response to widespread shutdowns in the foodservice industry, volume sales declined by 5.6% to 20.48 billion lbs. Meanwhile, dollar sales in 2021 topped $81.8 billion as inflation impacted pricing while unit sales fell 4.4% to 14.2 billion.

Demand for fresh beef in 2021 was strong ($30.1 billion), with dollar sales exceeding all other fresh meat categories combined. Fresh beef and chicken volumes were virtually equal (5.3 billion lbs and 5.2 billion lbs, respectively) while specialty meats, like bison, saw volume increase by nearly 20% to 17 million lbs.

In the processed meat category, bacon led the pack in dollar sales ($6.3 billion) which was 0.7% higher than in 2019 and 16% higher than in 2020. Volume, meanwhile, dipped to 1 billion lbs, a decrease of 6.9% compared to 2020.

The report stated that consumer awareness of market conditions is reflected in purchases and buying patterns over the past two years. It said three-quarters of consumers have noticed rising meat and poultry costs as per-pound prices increased by more than 6% in 2021. Upwards of 90% of consumers are making meat purchasing changes while 50% of consumers reported eating out less as prices increase. Shifts in purchasing decisions were largely a result of retailers being out of stock of certain items combined with limited package sizes and of course, pricing, according to the Power of Meat study.