Meat and poultry products remain among the top choices for shoppers at retail, but the 10th annual Power of Meat study published by the Food Marketing Institute and North American Meat Institute highlights several trends in the way consumers are changing their purchasing behavior.
Among the changes, the study found that price per pound remains a top factor as increases in beef and pork prices drove many to buy less meat or look to different species, cuts and brands.
These changes caused a shift in buying behavior of more than 40% of shoppers, with most looking for ways to save, the survey found.
Shoppers are also open to switching between proteins, cuts and brands, the survey found, which demonstrates price sensitivity. Some sought protein alternatives such as eggs and beans, citing added variety, health and cost. Millennials use meat alternatives for ease of preparation, the study found.
Shoppers also recognize nutrition benefits meat and poultry products can offer – with poultry being viewed as key in a balanced diet and red meat seen as a source of valuable nutrients.
Millennials are more likely to associate with functional benefits of meat and less likely to emphasize enjoyment, the study said.
Nutrition also has gained importance as shoppers are putting greater emphasis on leaner cuts and portion control.
A rising share of shoppers say they have purchased natural/organic meat and poultry and most expect to maintain or increase their current purchase level. The top reasons for purchasing natural/organic are "free from" and better health and treatment of the animal. For those not yet engaged in the segment, price remains the largest barrier, followed by seeing no added benefits.
Local interest is driven by perceived freshness and support for the local economy, the study said.
Appearance of a product is the second-most influential factor driving meat and poultry purchases, surpassing total package price.