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Report Shows Meat Purchases Rise Above Pre-Pandemic Levels


Americans are buying more fresh meat than before the COVID-19 pandemic and are seeking value in terms of price, convenience and better-for attributes in meat purchases, according to the annual “Power of Meat” report released March 6 by the Meat Institute and FMI–The Food Industry Association.

Self-described “meat eaters” comprise 78 percent of Americans, compared to 7 percent who describe themselves as vegan or vegetarian. Shoppers spend more than $15 in the department per trip and average nearly one trip to the department per week (up nearly 5 percent since 2019). While 50 percent of shoppers get their meat from a supermarket, many turn to supercenters, club stores and hard discounters for their meat purchases.

Despite rising food and beverage prices over the past year, consumers did not change the amount they buy (down 2.5 percent by volume compared to 2021). Product quality and appearance continue to be the top factors driving purchase decisions, followed by price per pound and total package price.

To save money, 76 percent of consumers report they made changes to the amount, type, cut and/or brand they purchase or changed where they shop. Consumers’ top strategies to save money include: buying only the amount needed, looking for coupons and stocking up when items are on sale.

Seventeen percent said they buy less meat with organic, grass-fed or other claims. Only 16 percent of shoppers said they cook more meatless meals to save money. Of the 33 percent of Americans who said they are looking to eat less meat or chicken, 52 percent cite cost as the reason (up from 16 percent in 2020).

“Meat continues to meet the needs of American families, across a wide range of priorities and preferences,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the Meat Institute. “Shoppers count on meat for quality, taste, convenience, and value, and the meat sector is taking action through the Protein PACT to ensure they can feel confident about doing so for generations to come.”

Trends in preparation

Americans prepare between four and five dinners at home during a typical week; 87 percent of which contain a portion of meat or poultry. With 55 percent of Americans using some, mostly semi- or fully-prepared foods in their dinner preparation, purchases of pre-marinated, pre-cut or pre-seasoned meat have increased. Seventy-three percent of shoppers sometimes or frequently bought these products in 2022, up from 60 percent in 2020.

Trends in perceptions and knowledge

In line with overall shopper interest in healthy and nutritious food choices and in doing their part for the environment, 85 percent of shoppers consider at least one “better-for” attribute: better for me/my family, better for animals, better for the planet and better for farmers/workers. Shoppers weighing health and nutrition in purchases are focused on three areas: portion control, lean percentage and protein variety in the form of seafood.

Just under half of shoppers believe meat and poultry brands are committed to responsible and ethical sourcing, and 45 percent say brands are committed to sustainable production.

“The research tells us that we’re seeing a more price-conscious shopper, but we’re also witnessing shoppers seeking ‘simple pleasures’ and that’s one area among others where the meat department can delight,” said Rick Stein, VP of fresh foods for FMI—The Food Industry Association.

“For example, shoppers concerned about food prices might opt to splurge on an at-home date-night meal. Food retailers can best serve today’s shoppers by emphasizing value-added options and catering to shoppers with meal solutions.”

The “Power of Meat” study was conducted by 210 Analytics on behalf of FMI–The Food Industry Association and the Meat Institute’s Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education.

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