Meat industry should think of flexitarians as ‘swing voters’

The meat industry should focus on developing new ways to attract the consumers that are trying to cut down their meat consumption, Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal, 210 Analytics LLC, said March 2 during “The Power of Meat 2020: An In-Depth Look at Meat Through the Shopper’s Eyes,” at the 2020 Annual Meat Conference, held in Nashville, Tennessee.

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digitalista | BigStock.com
digitalista | BigStock.com

The meat industry should focus on developing new ways to attract the consumers that are trying to cut down their meat consumption, Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal, 210 Analytics LLC, said March 2 during “The Power of Meat 2020: An In-Depth Look at Meat Through the Shopper’s Eyes,” at the 2020 Annual Meat Conference, held in Nashville, Tennessee.

She likened these consumers – known as flexitarians – to swing voters that are not affiliated with a political party or who vote across party lines.

“In election years, politicians spend a lot of their money on winning over swing voters because those are the ones that will make or break an election,” Roerink explained. “Likewise, I think the meat industry should also concentrate on people who have concerns about how meat is produced. So, what can the industry do to really understand what bothers people and make sure they remain customers?”

Educating consumers to increase interest in animal proteins

The percentage of consumers that consider themselves flexitarians went up this year, from 10% to 12%, according to the 2020 Power of Meat Report. (The majority of consumers – 81% – still consider themselves to be “meat eaters.”)

Flexitarians still eat meat, but less often (40%), in smaller portions (38%) or both (22%). They are also already eating or interested in trying plant-based or blended proteins.

This group is primarily concerned about the perceived unhealthiness of eating meat. Oher reasons included concerns about animal welfare, antibiotics and hormones, feeling guilty about meat consumption and environmental concerns. Consumers located in urban areas and along the two coasts were most likely to adopt flexitarian diets.

Among those surveyed who indicated they were planning on eliminating a certain type or all kinds of animal proteins, most were interested in cutting back on beef (82%) and/or pork (79%) consumption. A much lower number (44%) said they would exclude chicken from their diets.

“Educating flexitarians on the importance of meat/poultry in the diet and the strides the meat industry has made in the areas of environmental and social responsibility and animal welfare may help keep meat on their plates.” the report said.

“With consumers linking reduced animal protein consumption to their own health, the environment and the well-being of the livestock, the industry has a big opportunity to drive trust in animal protein by communicating about its ethical commitment to do what’s right for people, animals and the environment.”

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