The New Meat Opportunities Mar 01, 2018 By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods and Steve Markenson, Director, Research, Food Marketing Institute For the past three days, we’ve been surrounded by meat at the annual Meat Conference hosted by FMI and North American Meat Institute in Nashville. As we talked to retail and supplier attendees, we heard a lot of discussion about the direction the meat/poultry industry is taking to match consumer needs. The culmination of the conference was the presentation of the annual Power of Meat 2018 survey, which shows that most U.S. shoppers lack knowledge about meat and poultry—including preparation, nutrition information quality standards, etc. But this lack of knowledge can be turned into opportunities for food retailers. SHOPPER INSIGHT: With all the focus on health and wellness among shoppers and with the vast majority of those taking part in the Power of Meat survey putting an effort into selecting nutritious and healthful meat and poultry options, it is surprising that one of the most glaring areas that shoppers report a lack of knowledge in is knowing the nutritional content of various offerings in the meat department, with only 35 percent saying they are very knowledgeable. OPPORTUNITY: Providing in-store nutrition information for products offered in the meat department or directing shoppers to apps and online options (see page 37 of the report) can provide an appreciated service to your shoppers and help them feel more comfortable with the nutritional value of meat options. SHOPPER INSIGHT: Many shoppers report a lack of knowledge about preparation and marinating/seasoning of meat and poultry. Shoppers also show a high level of interest in new recipes for familiar meats and for trying new meats based on recommendations from the meat department. OPPORTUNITY: An obvious solution is to have staff and resources in-store to help customers with selection, cooking tips and recipes. It should be noted that most shoppers value a full-service meat counter in their primary store. However, many shoppers are focused on speed and convenience. This can be seen in the growing number of consumers buying heat-and-eat, ready-to-eat and value-added meats, along with the many shoppers having continued interest in these offerings. In addition, many shoppers express interest in the shopping convenience offered by meal stations (cross-merchandising items from different departments in one display). This range of solutions should be tailored to your customers and your store. SHOPPER INSIGHT: When seeking advice, shoppers are migrating to online sources for preparation advice and purchasing of meat. Many are using recipe websites and apps, along with social media. Also, in just the past three years, the proportion of shoppers having made an online purchase of meat has gone from 4 percent to 19 percent. And, shoppers, regardless of whether or not they have purchased meat online, are growing less likely to be concerned about freshness, safety or quality when ordering meat online. OPPORTUNITY: Food retailers should provide resources online for shoppers similar to those mentioned above with respect to product selection, cooking tips and recipes. While perceived barriers from lack of freshness, safe transit and poor quality wane and online retailers are able to address concerns over inability for shoppers to self-select meats, consumers will likely continue to migrate online for at least some of their meat purchases. Retailers looking to improve their ecommerce presence may find value in FMI’s Digitally Engaged Food Shopper report for omnichannel guidance. These are just a few of the issues raised and solutions offered in the 2018 edition of the Power of Meat. Download the 2018 Power of Meat report and stay tuned for our webinar on April 19th.