IT IS NO SECRET THAT THE PROTEIN cat- egory has seen challenges over the last five years. The most recent Technomic Center of the Plate Beef and Pork Report reveals fresh meat shopping trips have declined. This may, to some
degree, be attributed to a continual rise in
red meat prices since 2010.
Do not be fooled, the dip in demand does
not mean consumers have stopped craving
red meat. With 97 percent household penetration, consumers still plan meals and
occasions around red meat. In fact, through
proprietary consumer research we have
found the youngest red meat purchasers—
proportionally spend more on fresh
red meat than any other
Early in 2015, Cargill
conducted a Proprietary
Red Meat Consumer Study
of 8,000 fresh red meat
consumers. This study
showed how consumer
habits are evolving and
confirmed how important it is to understand
buying habits and preferences that ensure we make the right decisions to maintain red meat’s relevance.
Our research shows 51 percent of consumers purchase meat based on quality,
while 49 percent purchase it based on price.
Although a slight majority of consumers
buy based on quality; how they define
quality may vary significantly. Interestingly,
we found consumer similarities when sorting research data by age group.
or more times per month are considered
true meat lovers and tend to be our most
loyal consumers. However, they represent
a true dichotomy when defining quality.
Some define quality in a traditional way:
by grade, marbling juiciness and tenderness. The remainder of the generation is
comprised of meat lovers that place value
at the top of their list when purchasing red
meat. They view red meat as a commodity
and are not willing to pay a premium.
• Generation X consumers determine
quality by the tenderness of the product
and by their ability to discern the food’s
story—where, how and by whom the food
Cargill’s research also revealed the
product mix each generation desires,
based on the reasons that bring them to
the meat case.
purchase red meat to connect with others
through a special occasion. Confident in the
kitchen, this group has a passion for food,
knows what cuts to buy and knows how
to prepare fresh red meat. Alternatively,
value-conscious;Baby;Boomers;often;pur-chase red meat as part of their routine. Also
comfortable with shopping for, and preparing, red meat.
the “foodie” category and like to purchase
red meat to connect with others. They
often seek products with claims and stories they can share with friends to help
enhance their image and reputation as
Millennials share similar motivations
at a different income threshold and life
stage, their behaviors do not always align.
Millennials look for unconventional information about preparing food, complementing cuts and the latest trends that
help support their busy lifestyles.
What may be somewhat surprising is
how important Millennials are to the future
growth of the red meat category. While
is limited now, over time they are going
to;gain;experience;and;confidence;in;pur-chasing and preparing red meat products.
They were the only group in our study that
year compared to this year, which is very
Make no mistake, this younger fresh
meat user thinks and acts differently than
older, more confident users the industry knows. Keeping Millennials engaged
in the fresh meat case will require a shift
in thinking from product mix, rethinking the role brands play, how the case is
merchandised and priced, and what role
value added products play in helping get
meals to the table to meet the demands of
a busy lifestyle.
It is not enough to know our consumers, but we must also understand the
motivations behind why they are buying
red meat and what they want from the
for special occasions will likely increase
basket ring, drive repeat business and ultimately contribute to a memorable event
your consumer is trying to create.
Brian Bell is vice president of sales
and marketing at Cargill. He can be
reached at Brian_Bell@Cargill.com.
UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S RED MEAT CONSUMER
The retail landscape is changing, and younger consumers will shape the future of the red meat category.
By Brian Bell