Consumer Interest Grows In Convenience, Organic Meats

Meat purchasing habits indicate price, convenience top factors in choosing meat; Organic and natural regain popularity

Published on: Mar 4, 2013

Price and value continue to lead meat purchasing decisions, according to the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute's annual Power of Meat survey.

Though price is a top factor in selecting meats, it is losing ground, giving way to convenience and organic meats as high income shoppers ease up on money-saving measures.

As demonstrated by a greater interest in heat-and-eat and ready-to-eat meats, as well as the ease/time of preparation, convenience meals are rising to the top. This category includes under-20-minute meals and one-pot meals.

The latest survey, conducted by 210 Analytics, LLC, was commissioned jointly by AMI and FMI with sponsorship by Sealed Air's Cryovac Food Packaging Division. The survey details the findings of a national online poll of 1,425 consumers conducted in December 2012 and was released this week at the 2013 Annual Meat Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

Meat purchasing habits indicate price, convenience top factors in choosing meat
Meat purchasing habits indicate price, convenience top factors in choosing meat

Additional findings of the survey include meat preparation habits, brand selection, growing/raising methods and preparation tools.

Meat Consumption and Preparation

For the first time in eight years, the number of meals grocery shoppers prepared that featured a portion of protein declined from 4.1 to 3.6 meals per week, but the share of shoppers eating meat and poultry at least once a week remained stable at 93%. Portion control, driven by the quest to save money and protein diversity, is the primary catalyst for change.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

National Brands Gain Ground, Private-Brands Hold Steady

While shoppers continue to display a great degree of flexibility, switching between brands, species and cuts, a greater share of shoppers reported preferring national brands outright. Despite that trend, shoppers preferring private-brand meat and poultry held steady. Higher income households, in particular, reported a return to an outright preference for national brands.

Natural/Organics Making Post-Recession Comeback

The share of shoppers who have purchased natural and/or organic meat and poultry rose to 26%, with a particularly high penetration among higher-income shoppers. Most notably, 73% of supermarket shoppers purchase organic/natural meat at their primary store, the highest level in eight years ­– moving the natural/organic purchase from the specialty channels to supermarkets, warehouse clubs and supercenters.

Digital References Reign for Preparation; In- Store Tools Seen as Useful

While "mom" was the leading resource for how to best prepare meat and poultry in 2012, she was edged out by digital resources (websites, apps, blogs) this year. Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents said they would consult online resources compared to 23% who prefer to ask family members.  In addition, the report also explores nutrition tools and how shoppers are making more educated decisions in the meat department. Indeed, consensus among shoppers was that the industry provides adequate tools to help them make informed decisions, jumping from 57% in 2009 to 72% in 2013.