Keeping Farmers’ Market Customers Shopping the Meat Case: 5 Tips for Retailers and Packer/Processors

Last month I had the privilege of sharing consumer research that Midan conducted to supplement the Power of Meat presentation during the Annual Meat Conference in Nashville. Our assignment was to shed light on the consumers who are spending more and more of their meat dollars at farmers’ markets.

While these dollars are still a relatively small part of total food expenditures, the growth of farmers’ markets is something we should all sit up and take notice of.  Whenever shoppers are spending their meat dollars outside the grocery store, retailers, packer/processors and branded meat companies lose out.

The farmers’ market shopper demographics are fairly Americana, with one key difference: these consumers have a very strong desire to know where their food comes from.

So how can we make this “farmers’ market mentality” work for retailers and packer/processors?

If these shoppers are more curious about where their meat comes from and what is (and is not) in it, then we need to communicate more clearly and regularly that the meat supplied by packer/processors and sold in the grocery store is every bit as fresh and high quality as the local farm stand. This research points to the importance of sharing the “back story” of fresh meat, so that consumers can buy meat with confidence.

So, what can you do to keep farmers’ market shoppers at the retail meat case?

  1. Tell your story

If you are selling a branded program, you have some kind of story to tell shoppers. It may not include specific farmers from a certain region. Rather, it may be more focused on why your specifications provide consumers with the eating experience they are looking for. And your story doesn’t have to be long – short and concise is all that shoppers have time for at the meat case. Sharing your story tells these shoppers that you care and are working to deliver what they want.

  1. Share the facts

Simple signs like this can go a long way in building a relationship with shoppers.

  1. Explain “fresh”

Freshness is the #1 reason consumers shop at farmers’ markets. But the meat sold in supermarkets is just as fresh. I find it a bit perplexing that we don’t really promote “fresh” at the meat case. Even vacuum-packaged and case ready products are “fresh.” It may be time to explain the major industry efforts taken to keep the meat supply fresh.

  1. Rethink those clean store policies.

I get why retailers want to minimize clutter to maximize the meat customers see. While a clear view of the sea of beef, pork and chicken is important, the pendulum is starting to swing in the other direction. More and more shoppers want some background about the meat being displayed in the case, and sharing information at point-of-sale is becoming more critical in capturing these consumers.

  1. It isn’t only about “local”

The desire for fresh, along with assurance that the animals the meat came from were well-cared-for, is huge for farmers’ market meat purchasers. These shoppers gravitate to the farmers’ market because they want to “feel good” about their purchases. But this desire to “feel good” can also be addressed in a large supermarket with meat from national packer/processors. While the buy local” movement is big in this country, shoppers know that growing cattle, pigs and chickens can’t always happen locally.

We in the industry know that the majority of animals are well-cared-for by the farmers/ranchers raising them. But consumers generally don’t see those messages of happy animals; rather, they see the vivid videos provided by activist organizations that want to defile animal agriculture.

Packer/processors, here is a great opportunity to work with your retail customers to share the positive story of all that is done to ensure a great-tasting, safe food supply from well-cared-for animals. It will help you and your customer instill confidence in those shoppers who care and expect you to care as well.

Want to learn more about farmers’ market shoppers? Check out this infographic.

photo-credit