10 meat trends that will motivate 2022 consumer purchases

Protein demand remains strong coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, with consumer behavior continuing to shift toward value and online retail.

Doughman Headshot3 Headshot
Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com
Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

Protein demand remains strong coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, with consumer behavior continuing to shift toward value and online retail.

“2021 was another unusual year, but the good news is that meat remained top dog across the perimeter and across the store,” Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal, 210 Analytics LLC, said during The Power of Meat 2022: An In-Depth Look at Meat Through the Shopper’s Eyes.

There were three big factors that drove meat performance in 2021: inflation, the ability to keep consumers engaged with the meat department and COVID-19-related sales records setting the path to continued growth.

The Power of Meat Survey is conducted annually and the presentation of the survey was sponsored by Cryovac Sealed Air. Roerink highlighted 10 survey findings that retailers and poultry and meat processors can utilize to better serve the U.S. retail consumer.

1. Record protein sales continue

In 2021, inflation boosted meat retail dollar sales to $81.8 billion, despite a 5.6% drop in volume compared to 2020. Beef stayed the king of the castle in 2021, but chicken was close behind as consumers prioritized value and cost-savings.

2. Supply chain challenges, inflation impact purchase choice

Inflation played a significant role in 2021 and not just in meat. Fruits, vegetables, frozen meat, deli meat and seafood also saw big gains in price. Consumers were also highly aware of supply chain challenges that resulted in product shortages.

This has a major impact on consumer choice. This benefits poultry, which is typically viewed as more cost-effective than other proteins.

Consumers are also looking to reduce their restaurant spending, however they want to recreate these experiences at home. Retail needs to empower shoppers, making it easy to replicate a premium experience themselves.

3. Most shoppers still eat meat

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of all respondents indicated that they consider themselves to be meat eaters, up from 71% the previous year. In addition, 73% agreed that meat belongs in a healthy lifestyle. Home-prepared meals containing meat did, however, drop to pre-pandemic levels at 3.9 per week.

4. Amidst protein price increases, promotions reign supreme

One of the primary ways shoppers plan to combat inflation is by purchasing meat on promotion, In the past, this meant checking a weekly circular, the newspaper or in-store signage. Today, consumers turn to store apps, a digital circular and other online approaches to save money.

5. In store shopping hasn’t disappeared

Although a growing number of consumers have transitioned to online grocery shopping, in store remains popular – especially with older consumers. Most whole cut purchases are still made in person, for now at least.

6. Consumers look to social media for protein cooking, shopping inspiration

In store shopping may still be popular, but online is where consumers look for inspiration. Search engines and YouTube are the top platforms, but social media platforms like TikTok attract younger consumers that belong to Generation Z and Millenials.

One-click shopping lists – where consumers can watch food being prepared, view a recipe and then add ingredients to their cart automatically – are of growing interest to consumers.

7. Value is still important when it comes to protein purchases

With protein prices increasing, consumers weigh each purchase carefully. While some shoppers prefer to purchase only what they need, others buy in bulk for the overall cost savings. According to the survey, respondents ranked product quality/appearance, price per pound and total package price as the top decision factors when purchasing meat or poultry.

8. Self-serve rules over the full-service meat counter

Three-quarters of respondents indicated that they make their meat purchases at the self-serve meat case over the full-service meat counter. Despite that fact, the majority of shoppers still value the full-service counter when it comes to special cuts, advice or special occasions.

9. Focus on better-for-me

Consumers are more focused on making healthy purchases over sustainability and animal welfare, although the latter two factors do still play a role during shopping, the survey found. Shoppers prioritize lean cuts, followed by local, grass-fed and environmentally friendly packaging.

10. Plant-based proteins still have potential

There is still a lot of confusion and hesitation when it comes to cultured meats, but plant-based proteins have gained wider acceptance with consumers. Blended meats, in particular, have the highest household penetration compared to other alternatives.

Page 1 of 181
Next Page