The Food Marketing Institute’s Power of Meat report, released this week, has some eye-opening things to say about how U.S. consumers shop for and prepare meat and poultry.
First of all, it should come as no surprise that the average shopper is still influenced by the state of the economy. Consumers are very aware of their budgets and grocery store price points when shopping for meat and poultry, and they know that cooking at home is cheaper than eating out even if it’s not always convenient. Increasingly, shoppers are doing their homework before they go to the grocery store — they scour circulars for their own store and, in a rising number of cases, rival stores; they take note of sales and they clip coupons.
When they reach the meat case, what’s the biggest decision factor? For most, it’s price per pound, which has consistently been the top purchase influencer over the years. However, this year’s report had surprising news about the second most powerful decision factor, which used to be appearance; it’s now the total package cost, meaning consumers will search for a package with just the right amount for their needs. Clearly, price is at the forefront of shoppers’ minds.
In other news from the report, private brands remain very popular among meat and poultry shoppers, which is good news for grocery stores. And even in the tough economy, organic and natural meat and poultry products gained ground — despite the fact that many consumers don’t quite understand what “organic” or “natural” really mean. This could present an opportunity for education and greater sales in the future.
Another revelation: Many shoppers struggle with cooking meat and poultry even as they cook more meals at home. They turn to family members, cookbooks and the Internet as sources of help. This coincides with a rising interest in butchery and lesser-known cuts of meat, positioning stores (many of which have in-house butchery experts) as a possible source of help and expertise.
Since supply-side beef prices aren’t going down anytime soon, stores need to maximize their profit opportunity at the point of sale, and the Power of Meat report shows plenty of opportunities to do so.
SmartBrief partners with the Food Marketing Institute to produce FMI dailyLead, a daily e-newsletter on food retailing and wholesaling.