The combination of inflation, labor shortages and supply chain problems has caused consumers to cut back on spending in recent months. However, consumers still want good quality food and demand remains strong in most of the convenience meat segment as shoppers continue to look for easy ways to make their favorite foods.
“It boils down to one word—convenience,” says Ozlem Worpel, director of fresh meat marketing for Tyson Foods, based in Springdale, Arizona. “Retailers face ongoing labor constraints, especially around high-demand seasons such as summer and winter baking. holiday. Sliced, diced, and diced protein or seasoned or marinated meats help merchants maintain high quality, consistent service for their shoppers with less pressure on staff.
According to the Power of Meat 2022 report, the value-added category saw a 4.7% increase in dollar sales growth to represent more than $5 billion in 2021. Two-thirds of the meat buyers surveyed said they “often” or “occasionally” purchased the product. value-added products, compared to 37% in 2016. When asked why they buy value-added meat products, the top answers from buyers were time savings (28%), better taste or taste (22%) and simply something different (20%).
Value-added meat protein is in high demand during the pandemic.
“In the years leading up to the pandemic, consumers we surveyed began to view ready-to-use offerings as being of equal or better quality than full-service products,” Worpel said. “Then, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of grocery e-commerce by several years. We’re seeing a lot of shoppers moving online planning to stay there, even as pandemic restrictions are eased. Furthermore, as consumers continue to prepare more meals at home, convenience and variety are becoming increasingly important, so they experiment with seasoned and salted products for variety, or diced/cubed meats to save time.”
Annie Hennen, senior account executive for Chicago-based Midan Marketing, noted that with food service options dwindling during the pandemic, retail convenience goods have a chance to shine in the value-added meat space.
“Now, after two years of cooking at home, adventurers are looking for bold and authentic food that is also simple and doesn’t require complicated kitchen equipment or a full day of cooking,” she says. “Value-added meat provides a time-saving solution that delivers a taste and dining experience. Value-added meat offers the ability to align with various dietary habits and even personal values.”
Consumers also rely on convenient food solutions and food preparation inspiration because not only do they receive inspiration from retailers, they depend on it as they continue to cook more meals at home while battling cooking fatigue.
Lisa Selk, vice president of marketing, meat products at Hormel Foods, based in Austin, Minn., notes that the value-added meat category has seen significant growth over the past few years as more food is sourced from home, and new shoppers have joined the fray. category to continue that growth into the future.
“Over the past few years, many people have rediscovered the joy of cooking and enjoying their time in the kitchen creating their favorite dishes,” he says. “The use of value-added meat is part of that reinvention. One of the fastest growing segments in this category is hot-and-eat meat entrees which provide pre-preparation of the main component of the dish.”
Another value-added benefit of meat is the ability to enjoy a quick and satisfying meal in the fridge for those busy nights.
Ed Hinson, chief sales officer for Farmer Focus, based in Harrisonburg, Va., notes that consumers appear to be cutting back on restaurant spending to fight inflation, as swapping restaurant meals for restaurant-inspired pre-seasoned items at the grocery store is often seen as a cost savings. by consumers.
“There is huge potential for innovation and category expansion in this space—especially in pre-seasoned products that are more culinary-inspired and cleaner,” he said. “Retailers are happy and willing to make room for value-added products because they bring joy to their stores and/or websites and they are a reason for their shoppers to shop there.”
Increase product offering
As retailers consider the possibility of value-added meat, Hennen notes that it’s important to remember to have a broad store-wide offering, as marinated, ready-to-grill cuts of meat will be popular in the summer months, creating many valuable opportunities for retailers to cross goods. merchandise.
Hormel Foods focuses on innovation in the value-added meat space with high-quality, convenient food solutions and providing creative-inspired recipes for those seeking fresh food ideas.
Products such as the Hormel Square Table appetizer and the Lloyd’s Barbeque brand partnership with two-time world barbeque sauce champion Pig Beach Mustard BBQ Sauce are just a few of the options offered to shoppers that cater to their need for great tasting, restaurant-quality products that are convenient and easy to make.
For Tyson Foods, the added value includes many different products. This includes everything from containers ready for further processing and even labeling and packaging.
“To that end, we have invested in several key areas to support our customers in these areas,” said Worpel. “For starters, last year we opened a new case-ready facility in Eagle Mountain, Utah, increasing our production capacity by 24%. We have also invested in our ecommerce capabilities to help our retail partners navigate the intricacies of omnichannel marketing.”
Ready-to-use products, he explains, are ideal for e-commerce because of their consistent size and weight. Branded ready-to-eat products like Chairman’s Reserve Meats offer the discerning consumer the added attributes and recipe inspiration they seek.
“In addition, staple food categories such as ground meat and cutlery also remain strong,” said Worpel. “Instant Pot’s popularity is driving the rise of tableware, and Instant Pot utensils remain one of our top sellers.”
Many of Midan Marketing’s meat clients want to stand out through product attributes such as flavorful meats that are marinated and ready to cook—or even fully cooked.
“New items that allow confident chefs to play with their kitchen appliances such as air fryers and electronic pressure cookers, but also don’t require exotic ingredients are also popular,” Hennen said.
Value-added meat products will sell best when retailers strive to highlight what is available and sold.
“Most shoppers do some or all of their meal planning in the digital space; either looking for inspiration on social platforms like YouTube, Instagram or TikTok, or using a retail website or app to help streamline their grocery shopping experience,” said Worpel.
Farmer Focus loves to leverage retailer partnerships and media opportunities around unique initiatives that drive product trials and tell bigger brand stories.
“Earth Day and International Farmers Day are two examples of holidays, not traditionally celebrated at the grocery store, where we partner with wholesalers to create a unique program that fosters growth for both teams,” said Hinson. “In addition, we are taking a data-focused and insightful approach to our POS and packaging to ensure we are differentiated on the shelf and keep up with changing consumer trends.”
Hormel Foods’ communications and promotions focus on helping shoppers plan for weekday dinners they can serve.
It is highly recommended that retailers create a seamless shopping experience, in-store and online.
“Offering preparation advice, recipe inspiration and detailed product information sets retailers apart and helps busy consumers,” says Worpel. “Value-added products offer convenience and variety and can help inspire repeat purchases.”
Tyson Foods supports its retail partners by equipping them with data-driven consumer insights, strategic omnichannel marketing solutions, and unrivaled ecommerce support.
Packaging is very important and has become increasingly important in recent years.
“Grilled meat represents more than a third of online meat sales, so packaging like brick and chub packages ensures a convenient, uncluttered experience,” says Worpel. “Vacuum packaging and roll stock ensure freshness and convenient servings to cook right away or easily store in the freezer.”
Hennen says that the majority of value-added meat consumers are more likely to buy online, so this creates a lot of marketing opportunities.
“We often encourage our clients to equip their physical stores with e-commerce capabilities, as value-added meat shoppers tend to be loyal online customers and have higher basketball hoops,” he said. “The online shopping space creates more opportunities to tell brand stories than in retail meat boxes, a valuable tool for consumers interested in transparency.”
However, the type of effective marketing for value-added meat depends on which demographic is looking for the product. For example, convenience-seeking consumers are often less driven by label claims, but in-store coupons and cross-trading can be valuable marketing tools to use with these shoppers. Meanwhile, consumers looking for value-added meat/flavors are more aligned with the “progressive protein” consumer segment and can be strongly influenced by label claims, along with online cooking demonstrations.
Hennen notes value-added meat is sought after because of the old adage, “Less is more.”
“Less waste, preparation materials, knowledge, etc.” he says. “This all equates to more value for consumers, and they are willing to pay more for those benefits. Consumers have loved the taste and family time associated with cooking at home, but they need the convenience to accommodate their busy schedules. Retailers who can ease the burden of meal planning through pre-packaged meals and entrees will capture value-added meat consumers.”