Janet Riley, AMI
ORLANDO, FL — February 20, 2007 — Conventional supermarkets remain by far the destination of choice for consumers buying beef, chicken, pork, fish and other meats, according to the second annual report titled The Power of Meat — An In-Depth Look at Meat Through the Shoppers’ Eyes, which was released here at the 2007 Annual Meat Conference.
The American Meat Institute (AMI) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI) published this consumer research, which was sponsored by Cryovac, A Division of Sealed Air.
As many as 70.8 percent of consumers shop at conventional supermarkets as their primary source for meat, up from 68.3 percent in 2006. Once again, a significant number of supercenter patrons skip the meat aisle there. In fact, nearly one in four (24.8 percent) buy these products instead at conventional supermarkets.
"Traditional supermarkets deliver a cost-quality value across the meat case to compete effectively with discount retailers," said FMI Senior Vice President Michael Sansolo. "This is part of a larger trend in which conventional stores are excelling at offering a wide range of fresh products, including produce, prepared meals, ethnic items and gourmet foods."
The 2007 study found that meat remains a staple of American dinner plates. Four in 10 consumers serve beef and chicken three or more times a week, and more than one in 10 dine on pork as often. These findings are due in part to an increasing number of family meals prepared at home, according to the report.
"Consumers increasingly recognize that meat delivers protein and other essential nutrients," said AMI Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Professional Development Janet Riley. "Processors are offering an increasing variety of convenient meat and poultry products in a wide array of nutrition and flavor formulations that are being well-received in the marketplace."
More Than One in Five Consumers Now Purchase Natural and Organic Meat
Demand for natural and organic meat crossed the 20 percent milestone with 21.2 percent of the shoppers surveyed saying they purchased these products in the past three months — up from 17.4 percent in 2006. Nearly half (48.9 percent) bought them at supermarkets, more than two in 10 (22.8 percent) at natural and organic stores and one in 10 (10.6 percent) at supercenters.
Chicken is the most popular natural and organic meat, purchased by more than seven in 10 shoppers (73.2 percent) in the past three months, followed by beef (50.7 percent) and ground meat (31.0 percent).
Five beliefs motivate at least four in 10 shoppers to buy these products:
- Better health and treatment of the animal, 44.0 percent.
- Better nutritional value, 43.0 percent.
- Better taste, 42.0 percent.
- Positive long-term health effects, 41.9 percent.
- Freshness, 41.9 percent.
Price, however, continues to restrain sales of natural and organic meat. More than six in 10 shoppers (63.0 percent) said they would buy more of these products if the prices were more in line with those of conventionally produced meat.
Meat Shoppers Value Quality at the Right Price
In fact, price affects consumer purchases of all types of meat. While shoppers value the quality of meat offered by conventional supermarkets, they are extremely price-driven in selecting which products to buy. More than one-third (36.4 percent) compare meat and poultry prices at different stores in fliers and advertisements before every shopping trip. Once in the store, more than half of consumers seek the best value among different cuts and types of meat every time they shop.
Price per pound ranks highest among the features most important to consumers when selecting a cut of meat, averaging 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 6. Next important is product appearance (4.3), followed by package size/total package price (3.8) and nutritional content (3.6).
How Shoppers Would Improve the Meat Department
Consumers offered hundreds of suggestions about how to improve the meat department and increase sales. The improvements most often cited that would stimulate more sales are improved product quality (48.6 percent) and more variety (40.1 percent).
Many people suggested that retailers offer smaller portions and package sizes, suited for the large number of one- and two-person households, including many baby boomers.
Data for the report were collected through an online representative sample of 1,526 U.S. consumers. The respondents were at least 18 years of age with the primary or equally shared responsibility for household food shopping, and not a declared vegetarian or vegan. The margin of error associated with the survey is 2.5 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
To purchase The Power of Meat: An In-Depth Look at Meat Through the Shoppers’ Eyes, contact FMI (www.fmi.org/store/, 202-220-0723) or AMI (www.meatami.org, 202-885-4000).