The meat department is still among the top three most important factors in consumers’ selection of a store, and despite the rise of alternative proteins, it remains a strong basket builder for grocery retailers.
That was among the findings presented on the first day of the Annual Meat Conference, hosted by the North American Meat Institute and Food Marketing Institute, Sunday afternoon in Dallas, where the event runs through Tuesday at the Hilton Anatole.
Anne-Marie Roerink, of San Antonio-based 210 Analytics, discussed the key findings of the annual “Power of Meat” study in her conference presentation, a preview of a full study rollout slated for Tuesday’s agenda at the gathering of retailers and meat suppliers.
Among those findings:
- The paper circular is losing relevance to in-store and digital/social, but the concept of promotional activity remains crucial. “We have to take advantage of the planned nature of meat purchases” to educate shoppers, Roerink said. “Don’t just be in the hottest ad in town – be the more relevant.”
- The importance of price per pound is uncontested, but the way shoppers assign value is changing. Factors like ease of preparation and clean labels continue to gain importance, Roerink said.
- Shoppers are interested in national, regional and store brands. Retailers must tailor their mix for optimal differentiation, Roerink advised.
- Selling meat as part of a total meal solution prompts interest in everyday and seasonal meal occasions.“Think like the shopper,” Roerink said; answer “What’s for dinner?” with recipes, one-stop merchandising stations and meal kits.
- Value-added meats are growing, but some shoppers have low perceptions of their price, quality and freshness. Better communication may help accelerate growth in this category.
If Coca-Cola Freestyle, NikeID and Fitbit can do it, why not the meat department?
The argument for personalization was made in a workshop session by Simon Negri, of Chicago-based A.T. Kearney, and Jennifer Bentz, SVP of insights and innovation at Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods.
They advised transforming the traditional meat department into a “protein aisle” that merchandises products based on targeted health benefits for consumer groups interested in benefits like weight management and disease prevention.
Retailers and meat suppliers need to work together to help the category “reclaim the protein story” being led by beverage, grain and dairy products; leverage meat’s advantage as a complete protein; and call out health benefits on packaging, Bentz asserted.
Other workshop sessions on Sunday included a regulatory update and the farmer’s perspective on industry transparency.
Additionally, business and agricultural humorist Damian Mason offered his thoughts on how retailers and suppliers can fight back against an onslaught of protests against so-called “Big Ag,” arguing that “activists don’t want to come and work on your farm – they just want to go on social media and find something they agree with.”