Meat and Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends and Opportunities
The meat and poultry industries seem always to be under attack, whether from angry animal rights groups, burdensome government regulations, or foreign countries upset over trade status. Even nature seems to be going after the meat and poultry industries, adding avian flu epidemics and other health issues to the challenges the industry already faces. In addition, consumers always appear to be deserting meat and poultry to become vegetarians or flexitarians, that is to say consumers who are reducing the number of meat meals they eat each week in favor of more vegetarian meals.
Despite these daunting challenges, Packaged Facts’ report Meat and Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends and Opportunities projects a period of continued growth for the meat and poultry market, with retail sales to reach the $100 billion mark by 2019. The industries will continue to move forward, dealing with health crises, adjusting to regulations, improving animal treatment, and coming up with new products that keep consumers coming back for more. In fact, although about a third of the respondents to a Packaged Facts consumer survey said they were currently eating more meatless meals than in the past and 15% said they avoid red meat completely, 70% of those surveyed said they still prefer to get their protein from animal sources.
In addition, the survey found that one in four consumers say they have switched to healthier meat and poultry products within the last year, and over half were willing to spend more for better-for-you meat and poultry products. These consumers are seeking out alternative shopping venues, such as farmers markets and natural food stores, as well as purchasing organic and natural meat and poultry products.
Producers are actively engaged in finding ways to meet the changing needs of consumers. Efforts are centered in the “free-from” category, with manufacturers pointing out all the ingredients they don’t contain. The major exception is protein, which is the ‘nutrient de jour’ and a natural fit for both meat and meat alternative products. Industry participants are offering increasing numbers of natural and/or organic products, choicer cuts, and more gourmet quality options.
The dried meat segment in particular has been invigorated over the last few years with new products that are positioned as healthy, gourmet meat snacks. Some of the varieties combine meat and vegetable and/or fruit ingredients. With snacking replacing the traditional three-meal a-day eating pattern marketers have moved beyond jerky-like products to include bite-sized snacking items and even trail mixes with meat as the key protein ingredient. All day breakfasting, another strong trend, has led to the introduction of many new breakfast sandwich items both for foodservice and for eating at home.
In addition to reviewing the current state of the market, Packaged Facts looks at how conditions will evolve in terms of consumer preferences, the ongoing shift away from at home meals, economic issues, and the regulatory environment, including such important issues as how a government definition of the product description “natural” could impact the meat and poultry industry.
Scope and Methodology
Market trends and market size estimates within Meat and Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends and Opportunities are based on both public and syndicated data sources. Sales, market size, and consumer data sources consulted and used include:
- IRI sales tracking through U.S. supermarkets and grocery stores, drugstores, and mass merchandisers (including Target and Kmart, but excluding Walmart) with annual sales of $2 million or more;
- U.S. Department of Agriculture reports
- Public information provided by meat and poultry producers and the associations representing these industries; grocery retailers; and foodservice operators.
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