Despite prevalent health trends encouraging consumers to eat less red meat, 90 per cent of US consumers are eating some kind of red meat at least once a month, but 39 per cent of beef and other red meat consumers ate less in 2013 than they did in 2012, according to new findings from market research organisation Mintel.
Furthermore, a quarter (25 per cent) of pork consumers claimed to have eaten less pork in 2013 than they did in 2012. In contrast, only 10 per cent of beef and other red meat eaters said they were eating more, and only 13 per cent of pork consumers said the same.
“Health trends motivating consumers to cut fat and cholesterol intake are by far the most dominant factors affecting the red meat market,” said Patty Johnson, Global Food Analyst at Mintel. “While some consumers are turning away from red meat, in favour of healthier alternatives, there are still a staggering number of Americans who partake on a regular basis. For many of those who are cutting back they are very well trading up to a higher quality meat product,” she said.
Opportunity for higher quality meats
Indeed, 16 per cent of those US consumers who said they were consuming less red meat were eating less, but a higher quality red meat. Mintel said this creates an opportunity to market higher quality meats to consumers.
Packaging innovation potential
While innovation in this category has been low for several years, packaging may be an area for meat manufacturers to innovate, particularly to appeal to women. More than one-third (35 per cent) of women would like to see more resealable packaging, 26 per cent said they want individual-sized portions and 23 per cent said they would like to see recipe options on the package.
Price also a reason for cutting back
While health concerns were the top reason consumers were cutting back on meat, the price of meat was another matter of contention. More than half (58 per cent) of consumers said they had noticed the price of red meat increasing in the past 12 months, and 36 per cent said it was too expensive to buy it as often as they would like.
“The red meat category is facing a difficult future, as both health trends and price are working to discourage consumer demand for red meat products,” Ms Johnson said. “The industry also has done little to innovate since the recession and therefore has offered consumers little to get excited about. This presents an opportunity for the industry to try to invigorate the market with new products, improved quality and improved functionality,” she said.