By: Steve Markenson, Director, Research, FMI

Meat Shopper During COVID-19


For 15 years, the Power of Meat report has been a highly anticipated part of the Annual Meat Conference. For everyone, 2020 was quite a year and for the meat department that was particularly true. As a result,  FMI and NAMI decided to break our trend of annual reports to conduct a Midyear Power of Meat.

As I wrote in my blog in September, the first six months of the pandemic were quite a rollercoaster for the meat industry:

  • We had The Ups as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March with shoppers quickly stocking up on all types of food products. Meat was no exception as meat department sales almost doubled in the first week of the pandemic (compared to the same week in 2019). Consumers were also cooking more meals, trying new recipes, and experimenting with different types and cuts of meat as home prepared meals with meat increased. As we know, the ups were up, but not as much by the end of 2020 and, as FMI reported in U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends COVID-19 Trackers, cooking fatigue started to settle in for Americans.


  • Then there were The Twists as this sudden surge in demand and the impact of COVID-19 on meat suppliers resulted in a significant tightening of supply. FMI’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends COVID-19 Trackers discovered that shoppers found many products out of stock as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic caused supply chain issues. The impact was particularly profound in the meat department as 91% of shoppers experienced out-of-stocks. As a result, most shoppers (75%) made changes to their meat buying habits in the early months of the pandemic, buying more and/or different types of meat. There may be a silver lining here as many shoppers were exposed to different meat products, experimented with different cuts of meat, and became more knowledgeable and confident about meat.


  • Finally, we had The Turns, as through all the turmoil, the meat department persevered. Many consumers initially said the meat department had done a good job keeping product in supply during the pandemic, ensuring employee safety and maintaining food safety. As we move forward, shoppers are putting more effort in choosing healthy and nutritious options and this includes their meat choices.

At this year’s conference, we will reveal the 16th annual Power of Meat report that will take a fresh look at what is happening in the meat industry from the shopper’s perspective. In this tumultuous year that has been full of uncertainty, the insights offered by this report will be especially important as the industry continues to evolve and strive to understand how consumer trends.

But the Annual Meat Conference is so much more than just the Power of Meat. By attending, you will:

  • Learn important information about the market outlook, along with the new political and regulatory climate.
  • Discover the latest industry innovations in products and packaging.
  • Discuss the new future of omnichannel and ecommerce within the meat industry.
  • Receive insights about consumer behaviors and attitudes.
  • Review lessons learned by the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There will be also be ample opportunities to network with a cross-section of the industry.

For more insights, download the Midyear Power of Meat and don’t forget to register for the Annual Meat Conference in March.