Meat and poultry products are consumer favorites, food industry mainstays and protein powerhouses—all factors that will keep the U.S. industry for animal protein growing despite challenges from plant protein alternatives. That’s according to market research firm Packaged Facts.
In a new report called “Meat & Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends & Opportunities,” Packaged Facts forecasts that total retail sales of meat, poultry and meat substitutes will be just shy of $100 billion in 2021. Due to its higher price point, meat will dominate dollar sales despite still trailing poultry in per-capita consumption volume. Meat substitutes will account for less than $2 billion of the projected total.
Yet despite meat’s popularity and projected growth, this is not an industry without its fair share of scrutiny, says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.
“Meat continues to evolve and be re-evaluated by consumers in the wake of years of consciousness-raising on several topics, including humane animal treatment, meat processing and nutrition,” says Sprinkle.
Thus, in the years ahead, consumers will be mindful of their meat consumption, whether for economic, caloric, dietary or ecological reasons, predicts Packaged Facts. For those who seek out sustainable meat and poultry, specialty products like grass-fed or local beef, heritage poultry and even wild boar will be on point. Consumers will look to meat professionals to connect them with these products, explain the product benefits and educate on how these products are best prepared and served.
Consumers minding their pocketbook will take cues from how cultures around the world make less-expensive cuts like brisket taste great. Likewise, retail sales of meat also will receive a boost from growth in consumption of pork, which is expected to maintain its low cost advantage over beef. In addition, many previously overlooked cuts of pork (such as pork shoulder) are experiencing a resurgence in popularity both at retail and in restaurants. Meanwhile, retail sales of poultry are expected to increase over the ensuing five years, supported by poultry’s cost advantages relative to many types of meat. A further advantage for chicken: health authorities such as the American Heart Association continue to encourage consumption of poultry and seafood as alternatives to red meat.
With convenience and portability a trend across the food and beverage industry, consumers seeking high-protein meat snacks will find a plethora of meat jerky, meat snack bars and meat sticks available, as well as crunchy cracklings from high-quality pork, plus plant- and nut-based meat substitutes.
This report examines the current and forecasted U.S. retail market for meat and poultry products, including fresh, frozen and processed products, as well as meat substitutes. The discussion includes key trends driving consumer purchases within this food category, including demand for locally sourced, natural and/or organic products. Value-added products that reduce preparation steps also are appealing to busy consumers. Other major influences on the market, such as concerns over the treatment of animals, are discussed as well. Long-term trends and year-to-year volatility in product prices—influenced by factors such as weather conditions and outbreaks of animal disease—significantly impact consumption patterns. Consumer attitudes regarding meat, poultry and meat substitutes also are examined.