Consumers are buying more meat, but their shopping habits are changing. That’s the conclusion of the 11th annual Power of Meat survey by the Food Marketing Institute and the North American Meat Institute, in partnership with The Cryovac Brand, a part of Sealed Air’s Food Care Division.
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While meat sales have grown 7 percent in the past two years, consumers are looking for greater flexibility in meat prices, types, and volumes.
“Of those who made changes to their shopping habits,” says Jerry Kelly, national business development manager, Sealed Air Corp., “60 percent spent the same amount of money but bought either fewer or different meat items. A smaller cohort (25 percent) decided to spend less money on meat and poultry items while 15 percent chose to increase their level of spending.”
Kelly underlines that freshness and quality are foundational concerns to consumers, and drive buying choices. Consumers want packaging that is leakproof (62 percent), resealable (60 percent), and freezer-ready (58 percent).
However, those concerns focus on the function of the packaging after it has been purchased. According to Kelly, the challenge of convincing consumers to choose one brand over another comes down to providing packaging that allows the large cohort of younger shoppers to make fast yet wise decisions. After all, 60 percent of millennials say they’re not knowledgeable about preparing fresh meat and poultry.
“People between the ages of 15 and 24 spend anywhere between 11 and 17 minutes a day on food preparation,” Kelly says. “Many consumers are also looking for convenience and want fast and efficient sources for their protein. Retailers can respond by improving store signage and making sure meat products include nutritional guidance and other sources of key information. In addition, shoppers are interested in packaging that includes ideas for leftovers (20 percent) or suggestions for sides, wine, or dessert (14 percent). This may be helpful for millennials who are looking for some cooking inspiration.”
Likewise, the more informative the packaging, the better. Shoppers assess freshness and quality in meat by looking at the use/sell-by date (58 percent) and the color of the meat (57 percent).
“So it’s vital that retailers offer transparent packaging with easy-to-read product age and date information,” Kelly says.
For retailers looking to boost meat sales, Kelly says that the key is providing a high-quality shopping experience. Shoppers want a clean and well-organized meat department offering a wide selection of fresh meat in different packages and cuts, and they want to be served by a knowledgeable staff that can inform them about different meats and varieties.
Retailers also need to pay careful attention to the needs and demands of their clienteles.
“Retailers should study the demographic(s) that visits their stores so they can provide the most appropriate meat and poultry items while also cutting down on waste.”
For those with larger cohorts of millennial shoppers, he suggests making single-serve portions and smaller items available, which provide an opportunity to expand variety while also catering to the diverse flavor profiles millennials like. But for shopping populations that consist more of families, he suggests bulk packaging is a wiser choice for those who wish to feed larger groups of people.