ORLANDO, Fla. — While more consumers are shifting spending to supercenters, they still prefer to buy meat from supermarkets, Food Marketing Institute's Power of Meat 2007 research report shows.
FMI's Director of Research Anne-Marie Roerink presented the findings at the Annual Meat Conference here last week.
The survey of 1,750 shoppers showed a clear majority (89.2%) of those shoppers who do their primary grocery shopping in supermarkets stay in the supermarket for their meat and poultry purchases. If they go elsewhere, it is to warehouse club stores or stand-alone butcher shops.
Conversely, four in 10 shoppers who buy their groceries primarily at supercenters skip the meat department and go outside to buy their meat. Indeed, 24.8% of them go to conventional supermarkets for their meat purchases, and another 7.4% go to warehouse club stores.
The research, sponsored by Cryovac, a division of Sealed Air, explored other aspects of consumers' meat shopping as well.
“We took a look, from the consumer's perspective, at cuts of meat, packaging, pricing and the importance of organic and natural meat,” Roerink said.
“Then we asked shoppers to make recommendations for changes that would prompt them to increase their meat purchases.”
About 25% said they would not change their purchases, but others listed hundreds of recommendations, Roerink said.
Pricing and promotions, not surprisingly, stood out, but so did variety and quality.
“Some said ‘No deception, please.’ In fact, they actually got emotional about the consistency of quality within a package of meat,” Roerink said.
“They mentioned picking up a package of meat that looked good, only to find fat and gristle underneath that hadn't been visible until they opened the package. That made them mad. And they mentioned water [in the meat].”
Other recommendations that stood out were service around the clock, a professional, trained staff, cleanliness and portion size.
Portion size was mentioned by several respondents in answer to different questions. While some respondents praised the concept of family-sized packaging, many others said that they would buy more meat products if smaller portion sizes were available. Several respondents also said that they would visit the service meat counter, rather than the self-service meat case, to request a smaller portion. Roerink attributed these responses to the growth of single households.
“We tend to forget about single households. It's not just the single young person, but older people, too. Small households, for one reason on another, cut across all demographics,” Roerink said.
Although more than 80 percent of shoppers have access to a full-service meat counter in their store, most — an average of 70.4% — buy their meat from the self-service case. That's not to say they don't value the service counter for expert advice and the cuts and portions they're looking for, particularly for special occasions.
“They mentioned the word ‘special’ frequently in relation to the service counter — special cuts or quality or special occasions,” Roerink said. “They referred to holidays, birthdays, family and work gatherings, and other special events as factors prompting a purchase at the full-service counter.”
While shoppers may seek what they want without worrying too much about price for a special occasion, they are on an everyday basis very price-conscious when it comes to buying meat.
FMI's Power of Meat 2007 research confirmed that generally shoppers are extremely price- and value-driven when buying meat. About four in 10 shoppers compare meat and poultry prices at different stores by perusing ad circulars and newspaper ads before setting out to shop. And even more — 53.2 percent of shoppers — said they always compare prices when they're in the store, weighing options between proteins, brands and cuts.
The Annual Meat Conference, which features a full schedule of educational seminars, is sponsored by the American Meat Institute and Food Marketing Institute in conjunction with meat and poultry trade associations.