Consumers are price sensitive when shopping for meat

Reduced disposable income impacts meat purchases.

Meat sales are likely to remain relatively flat as consumers continue to watch their spending. Mintel, a large consumer market research firm, predicts in the next five years that beef and lamb sales will grow by 1.5 percent and pork sales will grow by 2.7 percent before adjusting for inflation.

The depressed economy and reduced household income has impacted on the purchasing habits of consumers in the last several years. This coupled with increasing meat prices has changed what consumers are purchasing at the meat counter. A major trend is consumers are buying less red meat and reporting that price is a big factor in their decision making.

Consumers are trying to pinch pennies by changing the types of meat that they purchase. This has placed more emphasis on ground meat and less tender cuts of meat. More expensive cuts such as steaks are being purchased less often.

There is a tendency for consumers to watch for sales and stock up when the prices are attractive. Extra meat is frozen for later use. Mintel surveys show that 74 percent of consumers are freezing at least part of their meat purchase.

Even though consumers are trying to reduce costs they are still interested in convenience. Mintel surveys also show that consumers like pre-cooked, pre-cut and pre-seasoned products and 30 percent would buy these products more often if they were a better value.

Consumers are also exploring other main dish options for meals. Switching to chicken is common, as it is perceived to cost less per serving. Additionally, more consumers are preparing meatless meals to save on the food budget.

The Michigan State University Product Center can assist livestock producers and food processors in developing meat products. Innovation counselors are located in Michigan State University Extension offices across the state and can provide assistance in product development, business planning, labeling and navigating the regulatory maze. For additional information call 517-432-8750.

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