By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods, FMI
My co-worker’s husband has become a barbecue aficionado. My son slow cooked a brisket for the first time at home. My grandson was excited to show me his burger-making skills. Is it just me, or has everyone’s meat IQ increased during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Well, seems I might have spotted a trend: According to the 2021 Power of Meat, one of the silver linings of the pandemic has been extra time—extra time to study, extra time to experiment and extra time to perfect skills. And it seems lots of people have been pouring that extra time into enhancing their meat cooking skills.
Mastering the Basics
In our survey of meat grocery shoppers, we asked about their knowledge level of several different meat cooking skills. In 2021, people report having mastered the basics on:
- 50% know how to prepare fresh poultry (chicken, turkey).
- 47% know how to prepare fresh meat (pork, beef, lamb).
- 44% know how to marinate and season meat/poultry.
- 36% know how to select the right cut for the recipe/meal.
- 31% know the nutritional content of various kinds/cuts.
Experts Are Growing in Number
Our survey also found that the number of “very knowledgeable” at-home meat chefs is on the rise, which makes sense when you think about the growing number of at-home breakfasts, lunches and dinners we’re all enjoying. These more seasoned cooks tend to prepare more dinners with meat and poultry and report they draw on routine meals for inspiration but have been known to consult social media channels and recipe websites. Perhaps the increase in these shoppers’ meat IQ is due to the adage—practice makes perfect.
Here’s one item that must have been on everyone’s holiday wish list—the air fryer. Sixty-two percent of grocery shoppers, up from 50%, report now owning an air fryer that they use to cook fresh meat and poultry. Grills, slow cookers, Instant Pots, pressure cookers and sous vide machines also remain popular and the frequency of use for some of these appliances has increased. In particular, younger generations are more likely to frequently use newer cooking appliances such as air fryers, Instant Pots and sous vide machines when preparing meaty meals.
Back to the Plate
So, what does this increase in meat IQ mean for food retailers? It’s a challenge for the industry to cater to a more highly educated consumer with more assortment, culinary inspiration and meat experimentation. It’s also an opportunity to offer further education on meat preparation skills, to reinforce food safety preparation techniques and to push even the shopper with the highest meat IQ to try something new.