How can retailers beef up meat sales?

Dive Brief:

  • When beef prices were down 15% last year compared to 2015, retail prices went down an average of 7.6% — and consumers bought 4.6% more, experts told Supermarket News.

  • Promotions are winning more sales from consumers — particularly those involving organic, grass-fed, naturally raised, hormone-free and antibiotic-free varieties.

  • Beef with these claims made up 4.2% of all sales, according to statistics.

Dive Insight: 

While meat producers have seen significant deflation in their retail prices, there may be more serious problems on the horizon for grocery stores. Plant-based proteins are increasing in popularity. Consumers who are turning toward these products may no longer be interested in traditional meat.

Just 1% of the U.S. population reported eating vegetarian or vegan in 2009. Now, 5% of the United States population is vegetarian and half of those people are vegan.

On the manufacturing side, Tyson took on this issue by acquiring a stake in plant-based protein company Beyond Meat. But how can groceries promote meat in the face of so sharp a societal change? There are strategies that might help. One is offering cuts in smaller portions. There's a growing trend toward smaller refrigerators, so big and super-sized meat packs and cuts are going to lose favor. 

Another way to keep those sales up is pairing meat cuts with one or more produce section items to be potential soup, stew or slow-cooker ingredients. As people's lives get busier, they tend to make more slow-cooker meals because the prep work is done in advance and the meals are ready when consumers want them. Packages containing the meat and all the produce parts for stew could be offered in both meat and produce sections.

Just as an increasing number of grocers are revamping their produce departments to better appeal to today's shoppers, so do they need to meet expectations in the meat department – or in both departments at the same time.

However, meat isn't fading from shopping lists just yet. A report last year from the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group showed that in 2015, meat consumption posted its largest per capita increase in 40 years.

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Filed Under: Grocery Meat / Protein