An unsteady economy continues to yield savvy grocery shoppers motivated by cost; however, for the first time, the share of shoppers opting to buy less meat to cut costs equals the share of shoppers using lists, coupons, and other saving measures. That’s according to “The 2012 Power of Meat Report,” the seventh in an annual report series exploring consumer perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors around fresh meat and poultry. The study was conducted by 201 Analytics and commissioned jointly by the American Meat Institute (AMI) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), with sponsorship by Sealed Air’s Cryovac Food Packaging Div.
According to the report, cost continues to be the largest factor on consumers’ minds, with savings just as important to shoppers now as it was at the onset of the recession. Since 2008, shoppers have developed and maintained a number of post-recession shopping behaviors to control their food expenses at retail outlets. Among them are methods such as pre-shopping planning and reducing the frequency of shopping trips.
Another cost-saving measure growing in popularity is the purchase of private-label fresh meat, with 64% of respondents reporting that they frequently purchase private-label fresh meats. However, the report indicates that one previously popular money-saving strategy that has declined since 2010 is buying fresh meat in bulk/family packages, from 60% in 2010 to 52% in 2012.
Among the other significant findings of the report related to packaging and labeling are the following:
• Awareness of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rose to 39% in 2012 versus 33% in 2011, although this has little reported influence on purchasing decisions if the price of U.S. meat or poultry is higher.
• Twenty-eight percent of shoppers said they would purchase more meat and poultry if it was packaged using environmentally friendly materials, even if it costs a little more. Forty-nine percent said they would only purchase more if there was no price difference.
• Sixty-eight percent of consumers are aware that in some stores, meat is cut and packaged before arriving at the store.
• Seventy percent of shoppers believe that meat packaged in a case-ready format is as good as meat processed in the store.
• Fifty-one percent said they would redirect their purchases to leak-proof meat and poultry packaging versus 26% in the 2011 report.
The sample size for the survey was 1,340 individuals who were surveyed via an online questionnaire in November 2011. Respondents were evenly distributed throughout the U.S. and were selected through an online consumer database.