“Power of Meat” Shifts During the Pandemic

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Farmers work hard every day to produce livestock and poultry that ultimately ends up available for purchase in stores. The “Power of Meat” is an annual retail food survey that explores shopper perceptions and behaviors regarding fresh and processed meat and poultry. The annual report is sponsored by Cryovac and conducted by 210 Analytics for the Food Marketing Institute and the North American Meat Institute.

While the pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for livestock and poultry producers, the year 2020 included some positive trends for meat retailers. Highlighted below are findings from the survey that identify notable consumer trends.

  • Meat department sales rose to $82.5 billion in 2020 which was an increase of 19.2 % over 2019. People staying home more and consuming more home-cooked meals prompted more frequent trips to the grocery store.
  • Consumers embraced a wider variety of meat products during 2020. Work and school from home meant cooking more lunches and dinners. As a result, 42% of consumers bought different kinds of meats than normal, 40% purchased different cuts of meat, and 45% tried different brands.
  • Availability and convenience of purchase played a role in meat purchases. While purchases of meat at the grocery store was still the largest source by far, 31% of shoppers ordered meat online which is an increase of 19% over 2019.
  • In-store signage continued as the leading way shoppers looked for meat specials; however, other sources saw a rise as many shoppers bought larger quantities of product to freeze and prepare later. Promotions across stores were looked at by 68% of shoppers and promotions by primary grocery stores were viewed by 78%.
  • Health and nutrition gained appeal during 2020 as 71% of consumers surveyed showed more interest in choosing nutritious and healthy meat and poultry.
  • Environmental sustainability continued its rise in interest as it was important to 49% of consumers surveyed.
  • Animal welfare was relevant to 55% of shoppers who say they like to have information about how and where an animal was raised and processed.
  • Plant-based meat alternative sales grew by 83% but was still less than 1% of the combined meat/alternative meat total dollar sales.


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Written By

Max Knowles, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionMax KnowlesExtension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock Call Max Email Max N.C. Cooperative Extension, Sampson County Center
Posted on May 5, 2021
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