Meat sales jump by double digits in the U.S.

6 Apr 2021

Meat sales in the U.S. rose 19.2% in 2020 to $82.5 billion despite the growing trend favoring plant-based meat alternatives, according to The Power of Meat 2021 report from the Food Industry Association (FMI). Of all the meat sold during the course of the last year, beef accounted for the largest percentage of sales, bringing in $5.8 billion.

Although beef remains a favorite among consumers, the report noted that habits are changing. Consumers are now looking for meats that come pre-marinated, pre-cut or pre-seasoned to help make meals easier to prepare as cooking from home has become more common during the pandemic.

Meat sales jump by double digits in the U.S.

While pre-prepared meat, and particularly beef, is becoming more commonplace as shoppers alter their habits, these are not the only options that consumers are reaching for. Due to various factors such as out-of-stock items resulting from supply chain issues and the desire for more variety in their diets, 42% of shoppers purchased different types of meat, 40% changed the cuts they were buying and 45% chose different brands over the course of 2020. These alternative choices were also supported by manufacturers and retailers looking to provide new variety and kid-friendly options to cater to the lifestyles of pandemic-weary people.

But animal protein was not the only thing to get a boost in 2020. Plant-based protein also saw an enormous surge in sales with 454% growth the week of March 21 when compared to 2019, per IRI data analyzed by The Good Food Institute. Despite this jump, the FMI report noted that these products remain niche with only 10% household penetration. Still, with the report showing that 14% fewer people identified as meat eaters and those identifying as flexitarians growing to 19% in 2020 from 10% in 2019, the plant-based category remains a popular choice for investors and manufacturers looking to cater to future consumers.

Plant-based is only one option for consumers looking for healthier protein choices for the environment. In the report, the authors noted that promoting products that provide environmental and animal welfare improvements may help manufacturers grab the attention of shoppers looking for more out of their choice in protein than just sustenance. Sales of meat products with better-for-you claims shot up over 18% in 2020.

Even if manufacturers focus on these products to attract shoppers, the report noted that it is also worth considering price when providing these value-added benefits to packaging. With millions of Americans out of work or facing reduced hours since the start of the pandemic, more and more shoppers are paying attention to bargains and weighing the perceived value of a product – whether plant-based or animal-based – against the price tag.

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