Memorial Day beef kabobs Amanda Radke

Meat sales fire up for summer

Memorial Day kicked off a summer of potentially strong meat sales.

Memorial Day was just a few short days ago, and as the unofficial kickoff to summer, it’s got a lot of folks thinking about grilling season and backyard barbecues.

I’m in Athens, Ga., this week to speak at the Beef Improvement Federation’s Young Producers Symposium, and any time I travel, I always try to connect with at least a few consumers along the way.

Tuesday’s flight from South Dakota was no exception. Sitting in the airport, a gentlemen sitting next to me noticed the BEEF Daily blog that I was working on and asked me about what I do for a living. Turns out, we both came from media backgrounds and both studied journalism in college, so after we talked “shop” for a while, I turned the conversation to my life on the ranch.

He was from Chicago and had never met a rancher before. So we talked about cattle grazing, the value of pastureland, haying season and how we manage the herd during the cold winter months. Then, we talked about beef. I prepared myself for some tough questions, but it quickly became apparent I was talking to a serious beef fan.

He told me that he had gone to a neighbor’s house for a Memorial Day barbecue, and they were serving turkey burgers.

“Nope. I couldn’t do turkey burgers,” he told me. “If it’s not beef, it’s not a burger. I had to run to the grocery store quick to buy myself some hamburger to throw on the grill.”

Don’t you wish all consumers were like that? Hearing about his love of beef and bacon, despite all the rhetoric out there, was refreshing and reminded me that even though the naysayers may be the loudest, those folks aren’t necessarily the ones we should be focusing on.

Sure, we have some skeptics out there, but the summer of 2017 could be a prime time to market to the typical consumer who wants to buy safe, affordable beef for entertaining a crowd the next couple of months.

According to Jon Springer for Supermarket News, food retailers are looking to promote beef in a big way this summer.

Springer writes, “With deflated costs and a mad battle for share going on in many markets, supermarkets are promoting meat heavily and creatively this year as the Memorial Day kicks off the traditional grilling season with several leading with '2-day' or '4-day' sales to win traffic.”

Retailers are trending toward also promoting specialty meat items such as locally-raised, natural, organic and value products like store-made kabobs and burgers with unique ingredients.

“We monitor all the ads across the country and we’re seeing great prices for Memorial Day,” said John Beretta, vice president for meat and seafood merchandising for Albertsons Co. “We’re also seeing a lot of incremental grilling items being promoted on the cover page. That’s something we haven’t seen a lot of in the past -- burger patties, sausages and ribs are more prevalent than in years past. It’s a great position to be in as a consumer this year, that’s for sure.”

With meat sales accounting for 11% of consumer purchases, it certainly benefits retailers to encourage that steaks and burgers are added to the shopping cart.

“We know consumers are a lot more aware of the local, organic and natural meats, and so we are really involved with those offerings,” said Beretta, in the interview with Supermarket News. “We’re also doing a lot of value added items, items that we refer to as ‘one-step closer.’ A lot of our markets, if not all, are doing store-made kabobs, gourmet beef patties with inclusions like cheese or bacon. Every banner does it a little differently but that helps us in our endeavor to be the favorite local supermarket.”

Read more about supermarket trends and how retailers are promoting beef sales this summer by clicking here.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

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