DALLAS – Net consumer spending on meat and poultry products at retail increased for the first time in three years, according to the sixth annual “Power of Meat” study, a joint project between the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute. The results were released during the Annual Meat Conference taking place this week in Dallas.

Some shoppers still spent less on groceries than they did a year ago, according to the study, but the share of consumers who made changes to their meat purchasing habits as a result of the economy declined from 51% in 2009 to 36% in 2010.

The study also noted the value trend has taken hold, with three-quarters of consumers saying they research meat deals before they go shopping or while they are shopping. The study noted bulk purchases are less popular today.

“Spending less by buying less appears to be an effective measure,” the report stated. “Shoppers who say they are buying less spend nearly $14 less than the national weekly grocery bill average. For retailers, elimination of items rather than substitution is a dangerous development. Shoppers are also less interested in family packs and report that more substantial discounts are needed to prompt them to purchase in bulk.”

Price per pound is the dominant factor in selecting meat and poultry, and marketing and merchandising measures are especially influential on the kind of meat or poultry purchased, according to the study. In-store sales promotions are drivers and as such, good use of signs is a way retailers may maximize meat purchases. Consumers surveyed also said coupons are of interest, but many commented fresh meat coupons are hard to find.

The firm 210 Analytics conducted the Power of Meat study, which consisted of an online poll that included 1,201 consumers. It was conducted in November 2010.