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Enterprise Marketing & Promotions Management

Top Findings of the Power of Meat 2016

By / June 2016

Insights, Research
    The Power of Meat 2016 is the eleventh in an annual report series exploring shopper perceptions, attitudes and behaviors regarding fresh and processed meat and poultry. Every year, the study explores:

  • Meat/poultry consumption and purchasing patterns, including store formats shopped.
  • Nutrition, including labeling on fresh and processed meat.
  • Frequency of preparing certain types of meat and poultry.
  • Marketing and sales techniques.
  • Interest in organic and natural meat and poultry.
  • Packaging preferences and influences.
  • Perceptions and use of the meat case versus the full-service counter.
  • Recommended improvements.
    Other topics in this year’s report are:

  • The influence of out-of-stock, cleanliness, service and other operational factors on the trip
    experience, spending and department/store loyalty.
  • Meal planning and trip planning as well as in-store research for fresh meat and poultry.
  • Preference for on-pack educational information beyond the standard items.
  • The interplay between conventional, antibiotic-free and organic meat and poultry.
  • The importance of born and raised in the USA versus imported meat and poultry.
  • The interest in value-added meat and poultry as well as perceptions on GMOs, the use of antibiotics
    and hormones and traceability.
  • Defining freshness in the eyes of the consumer.
  • Meat and poultry purchasing and preparation knowledge as well as sources of information.
  • Measuring the impact of health and wellness on the meat and poultry purchase.

The data for The Power of Meat 2016 were collected through an online consumer panel. The survey was conducted in the first and second week of November 2015, among a national sample of 1,360 U.S. consumers. Sample adjustments were made to ensure the sample accurately mirrored the population. The margin of error associated with the survey is 2.7 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Percentages may not always add to 100 percent due to rounding.

Read the highlights of the report below or download the 2016 Power of Meat report now.


1. Promotions are key to solidifying sales among primary shoppers and attracting patrons of other channels.
47 percent of shoppers decide on meat/poultry items pre-trip, with 78 percent checking promotions at their primary protein store and 59 percent comparing multiple stores. Shoppers continue to check the paper circular most, but its use declined in favor of digital and mobile research. Segmented/targeted promotions, versus one-size-fits-all, are increasingly important.

2. Connecting with Millennials is crucial for traditional formats to retain the meat dollar.
Supermarkets strengthened their position as shoppers’ primary destination for meat/poultry through high shopper conversion combined with being the top choice for channel switchers. Conversion reached an 11-year low for supercenters, while alternative formats (including farmers’ markets, dollar stores, farm-direct and online stores) picked up more of the occasional meat purchase. Millennials’ higher propensity to shop alternative channels may indicate further loss of trips for traditional formats – driving the need to better understand and serve their different purchasing and consumption habits.

3. Price per pound, along with total package price, dominates the purchase decision tree.
Product appearance fell back to third place. Total package price is the top choice among Millennials, which may result in growing importance of package size variety, fixed weight packages and price ceilings in the coming years. Additionally, preparation knowledge and, particularly, preparation time and ease are also much more important to Millennials.

4. A growing consumer desire for transparency in the product and the production process is driving sales gains.
Segments such as antibiotic-free, grass-fed, hormone-free, natural and organic meat/poultry recorded high growth percentages, but most remain niche segments to date. For many shoppers, interest does not translate into actual purchases once confronted with price premiums. Targeted merchandising while educating non-buyers will support continued growth.

5. Satisfaction with the meat trip steadily declines as the day progresses.
While all highly rated, shoppers who shop after 7 p.m. tend to be more satisfied with meat/poultry prices than service, variety, in-stock and cleanliness. This has significant consequences for both the immediate term (smaller basket size) and longer-term (eroded loyalty) – underscoring the importance of focusing on ways to keep store conditions favorable throughout the day.

6. Six in 10 shoppers changed their meat/poultry purchases over 2015 by spending more, less or differently.
This resulted in more variety in their dinner lineups, with upticks in pork, lamb, value-added and meat alternatives. Tactics for spending less focused on smaller quantities, buying cheaper kinds/cuts and buying more items on sale. Cents-off the price per pound is the most popular promotional type, ahead of BOGOs, and is an even greater favorite among several growing segments of the population, including singles, organic shoppers and shoppers focusing on freshness.

7. Convenience meat/poultry sees growth but needs careful consideration of program investments at the store level.
Forty percent of shoppers only “occasionally” or “hardly ever” know what is for dinner two hours from mealtime. Food retailers struggle to capitalize on this planning void, even if it could be a strong opportunity for heat-and-eat, ready-to-eat and value ­added meat/poultry solutions. These did see growth in household penetration and consumption frequency; however, core customers continue to skew to urban areas, higher incomes and smaller households.

8. Available, friendly and knowledgeable meat associates can be a big differentiator.
Shoppers’ self-rated knowledge of various aspects of meat/poultry preparation is moderate at best. However, when needing help, few ask meat department associates and instead use digital resources or ask family/friends. Yet, associate help or advice tends to pay off in greater baskets and higher loyalty. Nurturing shopper loyalty through available, friendly and knowledgeable associates can be a big win for retailers, with many shoppers seeking more information and education, particularly Millennials.

9. The meat case provides everyday convenience for the majority of purchases.
Shoppers select 70 percent of purchases from the meat case, with 97 percent using the case for at least some purchases. Shoppers’ trust in the quality of case-ready meat is ever-rising, with 83 percent believing the quality is as good or better than meat cut and packaged in the store. When selecting meat, the use by/sell by date is the primary way in which shoppers discern freshness, followed by the item’s color.

10. Suggestions for improving the meat department can be key to optimizing sales.
Shoppers recommend better prices and promotions for affordability; better variety, including species, package sizes, brands, provenance and product attributes such as organic and antibiotic-free; improved shopper outreach/customer service; and optimal freshness and quality, along with good in-stock performance.

Download the 2016 Power of Meat report now.

Contributed by Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal and Founder of 210 Analytics
Anne-Marie specializes in quantitative and qualitative market research. Prior to launching 210 Analytics, she served as the Director of Research for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Responsible for all research projects, she distilled complex research data into usable and easy-to-understand materials for business audiences ranging from America’s largest retail chains to single-store family companies. Studies and presentations included shopper insights; retailer benchmarking and trending in financial, operational and tactical areas; and internally-focused research such as conference evaluations and member needs assessments.


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