The annual Power of Meat study is arguably the most comprehensive look into the various trends driving consumer behavior at the retail level. Accordingly, it’s subtitled, “An in-depth look at meat through the shopper’s eyes.” The report is published by FMI (The Food Industry Association) and the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Research & Education, prepared by 210 Analytics LLC and primarily sponsored by Cryovac (a division of Sealed Air).
The most recent report was released in early March in conjunction with the Annual Meat Conference. This year’s report marks the 15th year in which the study is compiled. A couple of highlights right off the top include 2019 being a solid year for private brands, with sales up 12.3% versus 2018. That’s not surprising given we’ve witnessed rapid growth of certified programs in the beef industry in recent years.
To that end, the report notes the importance of brands with respect to consumer preference:
A good reputation can drive trial, but [even more significantly] close alignment with a brand’s stance can be rewarded with  continued brand loyalty,  consumers advocating on behalf of the brand and  even defend brands. Given the brand strength in meat and poultry, aligning the company’s values with those of core shoppers can help strengthen relationships.
What’s more, the report also notes that shoppers who prefer specific brands often also feel strongly on specific issues the brand should be addressing. This week’s illustration highlights those items. Not surprisingly, nutrition and food safety top the list – consumers want to know their purchases are safe and nutritious.
But after that, there are other concerns. For example, it’s important to note that nearly half of respondents cited animal care as a topic they want addressed by the brand and/or retail store. Meanwhile, concerns about “environmental impact” follow close behind.
Finally, Power of Meat notes that, “Gen Z is significantly more interested in many of these issues than other generations. Animal care practices are also of elevated importance to Millennials.”
Clearly, the brand/consumer relationship is becoming increasingly important with respect to meat/poultry sales. That has implications throughout the supply chain.
The issues highlighted here are all important with respect to how the industry positions its product to consumers – and increasingly demands certain practices and subsequent documentation flow through a committed supply chain to facilitate that occurrence. More to come in the weeks to follow.
Nevil Speer is based in Bowling Green, Ky. and serves as director of industry relations for Where Food Comes From (WFCF). The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of WFCF or its shareholders. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.