Five Opportunities to Sell More Fresh Meat

sell-more-fresh-meatAt Midan, our Market Research Team is always scoping out the consumer trends that are having the biggest impact on the meat industry. A key part of our job is to help our clients understand the implications those trends can have on their business. By assigning meaning to facts and figures, we can help turn meat trends into opportunities.

So what opportunities should be on your radar? I’ve outlined five that you might find helpful as you jump into the new year:

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Topics that Shaped 2016

At Midan, it is our job to pay attention to what is happening in the meat industry and beyond. Each week we comb the headlines, not only to keep up-to-date, but to identify patterns that could become trends that impact our industry. As we look back at the past year, a few prominent themes emerge that are likely to continue to require our attention in 2017.

Millennials: The challenge is different with this generation – we simply can’t lump them into a nice, neat category. After all, these “kids” have redefined individualism! One thing is certain: they are a large population force to be reckoned with and their impact has led to shifts in how businesses market to them. Millennials grew social media, heightened consumer consciousness about issues like sustainability and led the charge for clean labels, all while demanding bold flavors and convenient meal options. Complicated? Yes! Worth the effort? You bet!

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Millennials, Boomers and Meat: A Closer Look

We’ve all heard so much about Millennials, you might think you already know everything there is to know about them.  But if you’re still trying to get inside the head of this enigmatic species, we’ve got some intel that can help you engage this elusive target and sell more fresh meat.

millennials at the meat case

There’s good reason the media has been advising you to pay attention to this consumer segment — Millennials number 75 million strong and know how to make themselves heard.

At Midan, it was only natural that we wanted to learn more about their meat eating habits.  But we also wanted to understand them in context:  how do they purchase meat compared to other consumers?   We decided to study Millennials alongside that other influential generation impacting the meat case in a big way: Baby Boomers.  Millennials have been getting all the attention lately, but it’s the Boomers that have all the money – don’t underestimate their buying power!

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Wait– I have a coupon for that!

I have a confession to make:  I have become an Extreme Couponer. All the signs are there: I’ve developed a pattern for watching my most lucrative stores for bargains and super deals. I know and use terms like Catalina, MFG, MQs, blinkies, peelies and stacking. And I have no less than five jars of spaghetti sauce in my cabinets. (The big ones — and I paid only $4 for all of them!)

In fact, I have now successfully navigated three ‘super doubles’ couponing events at my local grocery stores!  ‘Super doubles’ is when a grocery store doubles coupons, in some cases doubling manufacturer coupons worth up to $2.00. So while I’m by no means an expert in extreme couponing, I AM highly enthusiastic about the impact it has already had on my family’s grocery budget. There are three of us in my little family unit and while our budget has increased some since I landed my dream job as an Administrative Assistant at Midan Marketing, it is certainly not unlimited.  Shoppers like me who save by couponing for common household needs and side items will have extra cash to purchase more roasts, ribs and steaks than before!

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Meat Shopping With Midan – Friends and Family Edition

At Midan, we live, breathe and think about meat – all the time. In an effort to better understand how different Millennials purchase meat, I interviewed my friend, Cathy Lee, for this edition of Meat Shopping with Midan. Cathy is a former urbanite turned Millennial Mom, now living in the suburbs of Chicago. She works part-time as an occupational therapist and spends the rest of her time trying to get dinner on the table while chasing her toddler around.

 

Caroline and Cathy

 

Midan Marketing (MM):  Tell me how you typically shop for groceries in a given week.

Cathy Lee (CL):  I usually go to the grocery store three to four times a week, and the place I go depends on what is closest or what I need.

 

MM:      Wow, seems like you’re at the store pretty frequently.

CL:          I used to be a once-a-week grocery shopper in my single years until I met my husband, who liked going to the grocery store more frequently. When we first started dating, he pointed out how much food I would waste when shopping once a week, mostly because I would end up going out to eat a few times mid-week, and then have to throw out what I didn’t eat. Now I go a few times a week based on what I have planned a day or two out – it’s fresher, and we end up eating everything we buy.

 

MM:      Do you do all of your grocery shopping in one store? Or do you go to different stores for different items?

CL:          When we lived in the city, Mariano’s was my go-to store for everything. Now that we live in the suburbs, we have three grocery stores within a five-mile radius (Jewel, Heinen’s and a brand new Mariano’s). It really depends on the day, where I am and what I need. But I go to all three.

 

MM:      So then where do you shop for meat products? And why?

CL:          For meat products, I mostly go to Costco or Jewel. I really prefer to go to Mariano’s for grocery shopping overall, but it’s kind of far away. Jewel has really great sales on meat, so I can buy in bulk and then freeze it for later use. Same with Costco – I love that their meat comes in packages I can put in the freezer as soon as I get home.  Meat from the regular grocery store you have to use right away. Heinen’s has higher quality meats, but is very expensive and has a limited selection!

 

MM:      What cuts of meat do you typically purchase?

CL:          My husband is better at preparing red meat, so he’ll make a lot of ribs (he has a great Chinese rib recipe!), steaks in the cast iron skillet and pork chops. I’m not good at preparing red meat, so I buy a lot of thinner steaks for stir fry and chicken breasts. I do, however, love eating red meat in restaurants.

I also always have some kind of ground beef in the house. I really like it with pasta sauce. There’s one particular brand of ground beef I buy that is perfect. It’s organic, has the perfect amount in a package, tastes great, and is a good price. I buy them in bulk and put them in the freezer. I used to buy ground beef from the regular grocery store, but now I stick to this kind.

 

MM:      Sounds great. Do you know which brand it is?

CL:          No idea, but let me check my freezer… It’s Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef. They sell them in these perfect little square packages.

 

CL:          By the way, you know what would be really helpful?  If grocery stores told me which cut of meat is good for what type of dish.  Chicken breast is super easy. But with red meat, what is the difference between a chuck and stew meat? Is one better than the other? Does one have more fat than the other? I have no idea what the difference is or what to do with them, so I just don’t buy it. My husband would know the difference, but he doesn’t do the shopping.

 

MM:      Can you tell me how your meat shopping has changed over the years (from urban dweller to suburbanista)?

CL:          I can tell you that before our daughter was born, we (ok, mostly he) used to make a lot of fun meals. Like a rack of lamb or boeuf bourguignon. Now that we have a toddler, it’s mostly stir-fry because it’s easy. I can make a whole meal in one pot (less to clean, too), and you can stretch it out to have multiple meals. It’s pretty easy to mix the meat with vegetables and starch for a quick meal.

 

MM:      Lastly, where do you get your meal ideas from?

CL:          Mostly Pinterest. Or that Better Home and Gardens red and white checkered cookbook everyone gets when they get married. But it’s mostly from the Internet.

When Millennials Move On: Gen X at the Grocery Store

It’s okay to admit it – you might be a little tired of hearing about Millennials.  I know I am.  It seems that every article I’ve read lately is spouting stats about the buying habits of this up-and-coming generation.

What I am more interested in, however, is what are companies doing to reach the generation that raised these youngsters who are just now coming of age and leaving the house?

I am talking about Generation X, those of us sandwiched squarely between the Millennials and the Baby Boomers.  As a card-carrying member of Gen X (those born between 1961 and 1981), I am wondering why we aren’t getting more attention.

There are certainly plenty of us out there; the Census Bureau projects that the Gen X population will peak at 65.8 million in 2018.1

Aside from our sheer number and associated buying power, it would be wise for retailers and packers to think about Gen X as the flip side of the Millennial equation:  as a result of Millennials growing up and moving on, older Gen Xers  are experiencing major life changes that impact how we shop for and prepare meat.

Although I am a brand-new empty nester (I just dropped my daughter off at college last week – sniff, sniff), I can already tell that grocery shopping is going to be a whole new ball game.  And I am ready to embrace it!

When my children were home, I made it a priority to put a decent meal on the table every night.  Protein figured pretty prominently in my dinner lineup:  steaks, roasts, ground beef, chicken, and pork tenderloins.  I bought lots of family packs and was a frequent freezer.

Now that the kids are gone, I don’t feel that obligation to be “Super Mom” every night.  The evening meal, thankfully, has become a much more casual affair.  I text my husband in the afternoon and confirm he’ll be home for dinner, and I pop in the grocery store.  The cart has been replaced with a handled basket, and I am now picking up meat packages with a pair of steaks to throw on the grill that night, versus mega packs for multiple meals throughout the week.  I was really excited the other day when my local grocery store had smaller rotisserie chickens in little bags alongside the standard-size birds in the plastic containers — perfect for just the two of us.  (Our dog was disappointed there weren’t any leftovers.)

My thinking is this:  since I don’t have to cook anymore (my husband is perfectly okay eating cereal in front of ESPN), when I do cook, it needs to be fast and fresh.  Since there are many nights we don’t even know if we’ll be home for dinner (we might go to the gym or catch a movie on the spur of the moment), I need protein  options that are convenient for that game-time decision, like pre-marinated pork tenderloins and grill-ready steaks.  Lots of older Gen Xers like me are experiencing new-found freedom from the kitchen, and the retailers that offer fresh, flavorful meat choices that fit our on-the-go lifestyle are much more likely to get our business.  So while Millennials might be getting lots of press lately, smart grocers and processors will be thinking about how to lure millions of suddenly-liberated Gen Xers to the meat case.

As for me, this empty nester thing is turning out to be not so bad.  Who says Millennials get to have all the fun?

 

1http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/01/16/this-year-millennials-will-overtake-baby-boomers/

Meat Shopping with Midan – Newlywed Edition

The lingering citrus flavor of Belizean ceviche had faded, and the last piece of red velvet wedding cake had been savored. While deciding where to put the recently-unwrapped waffle maker, a harsh reality began to sink in. I realized a bag of steamed vegetables for dinner, while perfect for a girl on a wedding diet, would not satisfy my husband, who still eats like the football player he once was. The carefree college meals of fro-yo and popcorn were long gone and housewifery was ahead of me.

I decided the best way to tackle this transition was with meal planning.

I have always enjoyed cooking and trying new recipes – I could flip through cookbooks for hours; however, this enjoyable hobby is now confined to a time frame bound by working hours and attempting to eat at a reasonable time. Making a plan not only provides peace of mind, but in doing so we are able to monitor our spending and our calorie intake – our two main priorities when shopping (I’m not so sure if the hubs cares as much about the latter as he does the former).

When I am feeling especially organized, I attempt to plan our meals for the entire week, but it usually works out that I plaWedding Cake Photon for two days, maybe three, at a time. Sure, this may seem like an excuse to peruse around Pinterest or revisit the flagged pages so dearly constructed by sweet friends Ina Garten and Giada De Laurentiis, but hey — it’s a planning period! So on I go, pinning and dog-earing, pinning and dog-earing until I have decided on two nights worth of food. I try to find a happy medium between the hearty, meat-heavy meals that Robert enjoys, and light, health-conscious meals for myself. After I have found what I’m looking for, I grab a pen and two notecards – time to make the list.

First, I list the boring stuff – laundry detergent, toothpaste, trash bags, etc., followed by the ingredients found in each of my chosen recipes. After everything is scribbled on the first notecard, it is time for the second – the final draft, the hard copy, the be-all end-all.  I organize my list from produce to ice-cream dairy, picturing exactly where each item can be found in the store. This way I can easily move from the right part of the store to the left, getting in and out of there as quickly as possible.

Like getting married or moving to a new town, it is important to find your groove when meal planning and grocery shopping. My first few trips to the grocery store as a Mrs. trying to create grown-up, well-rounded meals, I felt like I should grab the “Customer in Training” child’s cart – “make way for the novice shopper everyone, I have no clue what I’m doing.”  One time in particular I was shopping for flank steak. I went on to get everything else on my list before returning to the meat case (this was the first time I broke my left to right rule) because I wanted to go when no one else was around. I wanted to take my time reading each label, familiarizing myself with what was there. Over time, and after many many trips to the grocery store, I have now become more comfortable and feel like I earned the right to use the grown-up cart.

After maCustomer in Training Cartny meals being eaten at 10 pm or last minute trips to the Mexican restaurant, we are finally developing our routine.  Now that the warmer weather has  settled in, we have started grilling (almost every night). So unless it is a one dish meal, we will both venture to the fridge at the end of the workday – I pull out ingredients for a fun side dish and he pulls out the pork chops, grabs some tongs,  and heads to the patio. Minutes later we have a healthy, summery, meat-focused and newlywed-approved meal.

I have been raised giving and receiving food as a token of love, and as an adult I have chosen to incorporate this into the planning process as well by thoughtfully choosing each meal. My grandmother’s pound cakes complete birthdays all over the county, and my mom’s Chipped Beef Dip always puts a smile on dad’s face. I have not found my specialty yet, but by fine-tuning the grocery shopping experience so that it is enjoyable rather than dreaded, I am able to put love into every meal I create, well beyond the honeymoon phase.

Meat Shopping Mom on a Mission

Meat Shopping with Midan Blog

This is the second post in our new “Meat Shopping with Midan” series. In each entry, a Midan team member shares insights into how they shop for groceries and meat, based on their lifestyle and personal interests.

For those of us who work with Meredith, a Midan Account Executive, hearing she is an organized, plan-ahead shopper is no surprise. Meredith’s inbox is the envy of the office; all of her emails are neatly categorized and filed. As we learn below, she approaches the grocery store in a similarly-sensible way.

My name is Meredith, and I am a working mom.

Like so many moms, I have many jobs. Because I work outside the home, I regularly juggle office responsibilities with household chores. Right along with laundry, dishes and vacuuming, grocery shopping is one of the many tasks that fills my time each week. No matter how much I plan, I usually start another grocery list within hours of my most recent trip.

In order to make this never-ending task more effective (and bearable!), I’ve devised a few strategies that help me make the most of my limited time. As a mom with a toddler and a new baby coming soon, grocery shopping for me is all about convenience, budgeting and planning.

i. I try to be a smart shopper when it comes to “when” and “where.”

Living in a small town in North Carolina, there aren’t too many shopping options close by. My top stops are my area supercenter and local grocery store, with the occasional pop-in at the nearby discount grocer, because it is literally within walking distance from my house (and the milk is super cheap). I choose a time that isn’t too busy, if possible, and try to get in and out quickly, especially when my energetic toddler is with me. I often write my grocery list in order of the store shopping pattern to help with efficiency.

ii. I keep my grocery list flexible for sale items.

Another key factor in my grocery shopping is budget. My family is pretty easy to please when it comes to food choices, so I tend to plan meals around what’s on sale that week or just stock up when things I know we use are on sale.

iii. I stock up.

I buy meat in bulk or on sale and freeze it so I have it on hand. The main meats I purchase are ground beef, beef roast, pork chops and chicken breasts. Pork tenderloin, beef cube steak and strip steaks are more occasional purchases for me. My local grocery store recently added a section of custom meals in the fresh meat case that require only 30 minutes of cooking time. For me, that’s dinner on the table in half an hour tops! We have tried their burgers with bacon and cheese, kabobs and parmesan chicken and they have all been very good. I am willing to pay a little bit more for the convenience of having the meat meal-ready.

When canned goods or snack items are on sale, I stock up. I also participate in the supercenter’s savings program and like knowing they are comparing prices to other stores, so I save money with no extra effort!

We eat most of our meals at home, and I cook a lot, so a well-stocked pantry keeps me from constantly running to the store. When I have time, I try to look ahead to our week. I don’t necessarily plan meals for each day, but I try to have all ingredients on hand for when the next meal is needed.

iv. I don’t fight it – I admit Mom has had a major impact on my shopping habits.

I’ve noticed I do a lot of what my mom does when it comes to cooking and shopping, just because I’ve watched her do it for so many years. (And, let’s face it: I realize I am becoming my mother!). I buy certain brands and sale items because my mom does.

v. I do leftovers!!

There is nothing better than coming home from work and heating something up vs. starting from scratch. Lasagna, casseroles, roasts, soups, anything in the crockpot – I like making something we can have for at least two meals. And, when my plan fails, I always keep a frozen pizza ready.

Even a super-organized person needs a back-up plan.

 

Read the meat shopping blog from our PR Manager Caroline Ahn – she’s a suburbanite! http://blog.midanmarketing.com/2014/11/14/meat-shopping-with-midan/

 

 

 

 

 

Meat Shopping With Midan

This is the first post in our new “Meat Shopping with Midan” series. In each entry, a Midan team member will share insights into how they shop for groceries and meat, based on their lifestyle and personal interests. We hope you find it valuable.

 

My name is Caroline, and I am a suburbanite.

Caroline Ahn

I never thought I would be typing those words, but that’s what I am, having recently relocated to the suburbs of Northern Virginia after spending 15 years in major metropolitan cities.

With this major location switch have come changes in the way I shop for, cook and eat food.  My whole experience with food has actually turned completely upside down from my previous lifestyle – but definitely for the better!

In my journey from urban dweller to suburbanista, I’ve noticed four major differences in the way I shop (and ways retailers can make it a better experience):

  1. Retailers, I need meal ideas. Because I am cooking A LOT more.

Before I moved to Virginia, I cooked once a week – at most. I ate most of my dinners at trendy restaurants, and on other nights, clicking a link on seamless.com for delivery was just too easy. Now that these options are not quite as available, I find myself at a grocery store a few times a week, perusing fresh vegetables and proteins. Retailers, if you want to make it easier, give me some meal ideas and cross merchandise proteins with complementary items, so I can get through the store quickly and efficiently. Please suggest the freshest seasonal items.

  1. Whoever thought of single servings of meat – thank you!

As a single girl who doesn’t need a huge amount of food, I am very thankful for individual servings of fresh meat. I used to think – what am I going to do with five steaks? Or a pack of nine chicken breasts? Of course, I could go to the full-service case and flirt with my local butcher hottie (Why are butchers so sexy, BTW? Maybe a future blog post…), but who has time for that on a regular basis? Single servings of fresh meat are the answer. My only suggestion? Perhaps better packaging. Vacuum-sealed single servings are usually piled together like a pool of meat packages; I wish retailers could find a better way to organize and merchandise them to make them more appealing.

  1. I’m not very price sensitive. I just want to get in and out of the store.  

I know fresh meat prices are increasing; however, unless the price is more than $10-12 for a steak, I won’t even think twice. Considering I used to dine out 4-5 times per week, I’ve already reduced my food spending significantly by cooking at home. While I might choose one protein over another based on price, I probably won’t sift through multiple packages to save $1-2.

  1. Health and nutrition are hugely important.

The single greatest benefit of cooking and eating at home is better health. Having nutrition labels on-package helps me quickly identify which cuts are leanest, lowest in calories and most protein-packed. The holidays are around the corner, and many will be starting Paleo, Atkins or low-carb diets soon after. I’ve been reading articles on how consumers are turning to non-meat products for their protein needs. Working in the meat marketing business, I know that fresh meat is the best source of lean protein (with vitamins too!).  Retailers and packer/processors should put greater emphasis on owning the protein category – we shouldn’t have to compete with Greek yogurt or protein powders!

Looking back on the past year, I’ve expanded my horizons in both the grocery store and the kitchen! I’ve developed loyalties to different stores based on their offerings in the meat and produce departments. Not all meat departments are created equal, but the ones that do the best job of meeting my needs are the ones I go back to!

 

Fellow meat industry professionals, I’d love to hear about your grocery shopping adventures!

 

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