So what opportunities should be on your radar? I’ve outlined five that you might find helpful as you jump into the new year:
- Embrace Multi-Generations and Multi-Ethnicities
If you pay attention to the media, you might think that Millennials are the only consumers shopping the meat case. I’m joking, of course – today’s broad and deep consumer base actually spans various cultures and generations and brings with it a range of differing values and habits. There are four primary consumer segments affecting meat consumption trends: Millennials, Boomers, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. Members of these groups are actively influencing how fresh meat is prepared and consumed in the U.S. It’s critical to tune into the preferences and tastes of these key players so you can adjust your branding, marketing and communication efforts accordingly.
- Promote Transparency Over Traceability
Significant numbers of consumers value full disclosure over trace back – they’re more concerned that companies are transparent about their production practices when it comes to meat and poultry, versus exact tracking. In the 2016 Power of Meat study, 90 percent of consumers indicated a strong desire to know where their meat comes from, while only 68 percent were interested in tracing meat back to specific animals. Consumers want to know things like: Have hormones or antibiotics been used? What ingredients have been added?Are your production practices an open book when it comes to this kind of information? Being transparent is one of the fastest ways to build trust with consumers.
- Own Protein and Other Meat Nutrients
The meat industry has always had the best protein story, hands down. The trouble is, we aren’t telling it effectively. We are competing with yogurt and other foods on the protein battlefront when we should be the automatic victor. According to our Protein and the Plate research (conducted jointly with Meatingplace and sponsored by Yerecic Label), 70 percent of consumers said they substitute non-meat protein for fresh meat once a week.
Unless it’s okay with you that close to three-quarters of consumers are replacing meat for at least one meal a week, we need to up our game. One way to combat this kind of substitution is to get back to the basics with consumers by reminding them that meat is one of the best protein sources on the planet as well as an excellent source of other key nutrients. We know that consumers love a good story, and we need to be telling ours.
- Develop Value-Added Products
Value-added items in the meat case are experiencing strong growth and there are several reasons why. Along with offering reduced preparation time and minimizing the decision-making process, these products can be sold in packages of one, two or multiple servings. More than ever, consumers crave convenience and simplicity, and the variety of package sizes meets the needs of smaller households, like Boomers. And for that younger generation that’s less educated about meat, value-added products help make dinner stress-free. It’s all about offering meal solutions that meet the needs of your consumer base.
- Build Meat Brands
You’ve heard it here before and are no doubt seeing it in our industry: commodity products are making way for branded products. Along with helping you compete in the meat case, branding is a way for you to attract new customers and generate loyalty. Branding helps build trust and a solid relationship with your company. Although the meat industry tends to be slow to change, this trend is picking up speed fast, so the time to act is now.