DALLAS — Consumer spending in U.S. supermarkets is showing several signs of stabilization, according to the sixth annual "Power of Meat" report, presented here today at the Annual Meat Conference, a joint production of the American Meat Institute and Food Marketing Institute.
U.S. consumers continue to be pressured by economic challenges. Unemployment remains high, and many retirement-aged Baby Boomers are finding that they have not saved enough for retirement. As a result, 28% of the 1,200 consumer respondents to the 2011 Power of Meat survey estimated that they are spending less at the supermarket each week than they did last year, noted Anne-Marie Roerink, principal of market research group 2010 Analytics, and former director of research for FMI. Still, this is a significant improvement from the 2010 survey, when 45% of respondents said they had needed to find ways to cut back on their food shopping trips.
In fact, total average grocery spending increased to $96 per week, which was faster than the rate of inflation for food consumed at home — indicating that there was a real rise in food spending, beyond inflation-driven increases. In addition, 23% of all shoppers surveyed said they were spending less because of money-saving measures, down from 30% in the 2010 report. In meat departments, several specific money-saving measures appear to be losing steam. Most notably, 72% of respondents to the 2010 survey said they tried to purchase meat in bulk to save, in the latest survey, however, only 57% said they had been buying in bulk to save — a decline of 15%.
Similarly, the practice of buying larger quantities of meat and poultry to freeze and use over time also declined. In the 2007 Power of Meat report, 51% of respondents said they sometimes used that tactic. This trend rose steadily among respondents through 2010, when 60% said they bought and froze product. In the 2011 survey, the practice had returned to earlier norms, with 52% reporting that they bought and froze meat for later to save money.