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How meat will reinvent itself in 2020

Despite plant-based hype, a new report says meat is making a resurgence among U.S. consumers.

I recently read an article that suggested packers should blend plant-based proteins with raw beef products. Frankly, this feels like a move your mom would make in an ill-fated attempt to sneak spinach into the meat loaf or spaghetti.

Market your product anyway you like, but please make sure it’s labeled if you do! When I go to the grocery store, I want the real deal. I’m not looking for a “wannabe” imitation product, thank you very much!

Turns out, other consumers feel the same way. That’s according to a recent trends analysis conducted by NewNutrition Business.

Julian Mellentin, is a consultant to the food and beverage industry and author of the new study, titled, “10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2020.”

Mellentin said, “In an era where plant-based is getting all the attention, and meat is under attack, creative meat producers are taking steps to reinvent their category, for example with convenience. They’re moving away from selling big lumps of meat that people have to take home and prepare, to providing easy-to-use products such as meat snacks, sales of which are growing steadily in many countries.”

So how will meat reinvent itself in 2020? Meat as a convenient snack will drive sales in the upcoming year. The global meat snacks market was valued at $7 billion in 2019, according to the report, with an anticipated growth of 7-8% in the next five years. In the U.S., meat snacks grew 6.7% in 2018. And around the world countries including India, China, Brazil and Turkey are quickly developing a taste for convenient meat snacks on the go.

I’m on the road quite a bit for speaking engagements, and this is exciting news for me personally. I love to have options for protein-dense snacks at the gas station, convenience store or airport that I can eat on the run.

The data also showed that consumers want to hear more about sustainability and animal welfare. It also shows that companies who are able to effectively communicate these messages will earn premium prices.

According to the report, “U.S. sales of meat with health or environmental claims are growing rapidly, led by ‘organic,’ up 13.1%, and ‘grass-fed,’ up 12.2%.

Mellentin added, “It’s worth remembering that although meat substitutes are getting lots of media attention, they’re a tiny niche. Sales of organic meat by itself are bigger than those of meat substitutes.”

As meat reinvents itself, flipping misconceptions about health and the environment into talking points about the facts, they will reach a new generation of consumers, who will naturally gravitate toward convenient, sustainable and quality products.

NewNutrition Business said, “It's a transformation that will be welcomed by consumers. In the U.S. and in the E.U., meat sales have increased in recent years. Americans spent $850 million more on beef alone in 2018-2019 than they did the previous year, and $350 million more on meat snacks. Their additional spending on meat substitutes, by contrast, was just $100 million.”

Mellentin says this growth in sales is because consumers prefer the taste of meat and perceive it to be a high-quality protein. What’s more, diet trends including low carb and kept are giving a resurgence to increased meat consumption.

“Recently-published scientific studies that question the negatives around meat and health are welcome news to consumers, who love to hear that something they enjoy is also good for them – as happened with red wine and chocolate,” said Mellentin.

While most of us aren’t directly involved in direct sales of premium snack products, there is certainly an opportunity to find yourself in a niche and supply to companies who want specific things that consumers are demanding.

Per the report, “Creative meat companies are improving their planetary health profile by taking steps to, for example, improve their sequestration of greenhouse gases, something that will become more common and alleviate the common criticism often made against cattle and sheep.”

“Sustainable" beef snacks for busy on-the-go consumers will be king in 2020. As for the plant-based guys, you can try to sneak your subpar products by blending it into beef, but I suspect, consumers won’t bite as you hope.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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