- Consumers’ enthusiasm for meat is back to 2012 levels, with the average home eating four meals a week with meat or poultry, according to the Food Marketing Institute's latest “Power of Meat" report.
- The report finds that 50% of shoppers say they have limited knowledge of meat and poultry, but those that do know more buy a greater variety of cuts and cook with meat more often. This creates an opportunity for retailers to boost sales by educating shoppers.
- More consumers are comfortable buying meat online, as well. The share of shoppers who bought meat online at least once was up from 4% in 2015 to 19% in 2018. Shoppers are also frequently purchasing more value-added meat and poultry, increasing from nine percent in 2016 to 21 percent in 2018.
Some 60% of consume say they’re cutting back on meat-based products, substituting beef burgers in favor of plant-based alternatives. However, demand for meat is still high and growing with key consumer segments. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average U.S. consumer will eat 222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry in 2018, a record high.
One interesting finding from the new "Power of Meat" study focuses on how consumer attitudes have changed when it comes to buying meat online. There has been impressive change here, up from 4% in 2015 to 19% in 2018. This swing indicates even more shoppers may be open to the alternative method of ordering in the near future. The catalyst behind this surge is likely an uptick in both home grocery delivery services, and meal kit growth.
Knowledge really is power, according to the study. Consumers who knew more about the various cuts of meat and preparation methods not only purchased a greater variety of cuts, they also bought more meat and poultry in general.
This creates a tremendous opportunity for retailers by simply staffing their meat counter with knowledgeable, engaging workers who understand a big part of their job is to talk with the customer. By boosting engagement and passing along some tips, grocery stores could see a corresponding bump in sales. Forty-two percent of those surveyed said they would branch out to try new cuts, if advised.
Consumers are already finding the health and nutrition education they desire for meat and poultry, with 79% reporting that there is sufficient information available to them. But they want to know more about sourcing, raising, animal welfare and environmental practices. This could once again be an area that service members focus on when helping customers.
Price per pound still is the greatest influence on meat and poultry purchases for the eleventh straight year, followed by appearance. But retailers can use the meat department to stand out from competitors with improved service, and more value-added options. Gains were reported in heat-and-eat, ready-to-eat and value-added meat. Supermarkets could differentiate themselves by offering a greater assortment of options, and also more information on the preparation.
The four areas that customers suggested retailers focus on for a more positive shopping experience are improved transparency of quality and freshness, greater variety of cuts and pack sizes, better pricing and promotions, and improved customer service.
If a retailer were able to make significant strides in these areas, they could reap the reward of increased customer loyalty and beefed up sales.