How to Optimize Meat’s Role in Today’s Food Culture


According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, by 2050, food production must increase by about 70% to feed the anticipated nine billion people. This projected population increase is expected to involve an additional annual consumption of nearly 200m metric tons of meat.

By Dan Orehov

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education and the foundation for the North American Meat Institute released the 14th annual exploration into how to best optimize meat and poultry’s role in today’s food culture: the way we eat, shop and live. The Power of Meat 2019 explores the financial prowess of the USD67bn category and meat’s overall role in supporting a food retailer’s reputation.

According to the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), the analysis suggests that food retailers and their meat supplier partners should align their thinking with the shopper who considers his/her meat purchase as a meal occasion and not necessarily relegated to one area of the store. Consumers increasingly shop across the full meat offering, from the meat case and counter, to the frozen aisle and deli. Across all departments, convenience-focused meat and poultry saw robust growth in 2018, including value-added (+5.1%), fully-cooked (+2.5%) and frozen (+2.2%). Further, the report urges retailers and suppliers to consider new ways to help shoppers plan multiple meal meat purchases. Currently, 4-in-10 shoppers buy meat/poultry for meals to cover several days; 35% buy more than they need to freeze and use over time; and 23%, particularly Gen Z and younger Millennials, buy meat and poultry for one meal at a time.

Shopping for Health

Shoppers are increasingly turning to food to help manage health and well-being. The report says that they seek to understand what is in their food, who made it and how it was produced, and meat is no exception. In the meat department, two thirds of shoppers look for better-for-me items and around three in 10 look for products that are better for the planet, farmers, workers or animals. 86% of US shoppers interviewed describe themselves as meat eaters, but the data suggest the younger generation is increasingly reporting a flexitarian regime, categorized as a mostly vegetarian diet with occasional meat and poultry consumption. For instance, among Generation Z, 13% eat a flexitarian diet versus just 6% of Boomers. Women, at 15%, are also more likely to be flexitarians than men, at 6%. Interestingly, meat does not seem to benefit from increased consumer interest in protein as many are unaware of meat’s high protein content. Shoppers report to being open to blended alternatives such as beef and mushroom burgers as 63% say they would “maybe” or “definitely” purchase blended meat and plant items

You can read the entire article in the March-April 2019 print issue of Frozen Food Europe.

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