26 feature | meat CONSUMER PERISHABLES DATABOOK 2016
Accounting for 38 percent of total perimeter sales and 14 percent of total store food sales, the meat department can heavily impact total store suc- cess. Over the course of the past two years, vari-
ous factors have affected meat pricing, resulting in mixed
performance, with some cuts such as beef more sharply
impacted than others. Sales increased slightly over the latest
52 weeks ended Feb. 27, as price sensitivity has settled since
2014, when the department increased prices at historic rates.
While consumers have accepted the higher prices as the new
norm, pricing and value still remains top of mind for many
The two most common answers to a 2015 survey on how
consumers were responding to higher meat prices were 1.
buying fresh meat on sale more often, and 2. buying fresh
meat less often. Unfortunately, shoppers made good on their
intentions as the frequency of meat purchases and annual
spend both declined in 2015 compared to 2014. In total, the
department lost $74 million in sales from households that
walked away from the meat department in 2015.
Across the store, consumer demands for more convenient
products and a renewed focus on health have influenced sales
trends, and the meat department is no exception. Fully cooked
meat and products such as grass fed or antibiotic-free meat
have helped buoy department sales, yet as our population
becomes more technologically connected, more polarized by
income levels, more multicultural and multigenerational, the
dynamics of consumer households continue to change. This
rate of change is daunting, but an increased understanding of
the consumer can facilitate more impactful strategies at retail.
Surviving the Pricing Storm
We already established the importance of price in the meat
case, but value is another key element of future success and
encompasses more than just price.
It all starts with offering the right assortment for the shop-
per base. Raw, fresh meat remains the department’s backbone
with nearly two-thirds of sales, so appropriate execution in
this area is critical. Supplementing versatile favorites such
as ground beef or chicken breasts with current restaurant
trends like pork belly or charcuterie can help reengage con-
sumers with the case, while the convenience of products like
fully-cooked meat can drive incremental meat sales. While
fully-cooked meat sales spike at key holidays such as the
Super Bowl or New Year’s, some retailers offer products and
encourage purchases of convenient items throughout the
year, including stuffed chicken breasts and portioned meat
and vegetables for kabobs or stews.
Another tactic to drive value for consumers is through
more premium products with health claims. One of the fast-est growing health claims from frozen meals to yogurt is the
presence of protein. As one of the leading sources of protein
content, it is imperative that the meat department take part
in consumer education around the benefits of meat. Today,
less than 40 percent of households know that a single serving of pork or chicken contains more than 20-grams of protein—in other words, many consumers have the perception
that peanut butter has more protein than meat. More specialized health trends such as organic or vegetarian fed meat can
attract important shopper demographics to the case. Both of
these claims are important to Millennials and highly affluent
households, and these two groups are willing to pay more for
these premium products.
Price continues to dominate the storyline of the meat
their needs catered to at the store-cut level in order to right
the ship and spur department growth.