Economic forces push consumers to eat-in more often

by Editor
Monday, March 10, 2008

A study revealed that consumers eat more meals at home and are concerned over the cost of meat.

High energy costs, the credit crunch, weak housing market and recessionary climate are changing how and where consumers shop and dine according to the third annual report titled The Power of Meat — an in-depth look at meat through the shoppers’ eyes.

The report, which details the findings of a U.S. online poll of 1,147 of consumers conducted in November 2007, was released at the 2008 Annual Meat Conference, Nashville, Tenn.

Supermarkets remain the top outlet for meat, with 90.5% of supermarket shoppers buying their meat there as well. The number of shoppers buying meat at supercenters dropped from 24.9% to 20%, while the number buying meat at club stores rose from 2.7% to 5.7%.

The study revealed that nearly 79% of shoppers have access to a full-service meat counter at their store, with 70% reporting that all of their meat purchases were selected from the self-service area.

The study found that 30% of shoppers would increase meat case purchases even more if the packaging were leak-proof.

The study also found that meat continues to be a staple at American dinner tables. According to the study, the average family has five dinners at home per week, with an average of 4.2 of these meals including a meat item. Chicken and beef are the top meat choices, with more than 80% eating chicken and beef at least once an week and more than 34% eating chicken and beef at least three times a week.

Consumers ranked price per pound as the most important factor when selecting meat —averaging a 4.6 on a scale from 1 to 6. This was up from 2006 and 2007 and may be linked to rising food prices. The vast majority compares meat prices before selection and purchase.

Despite price concerns, consumers continue to show strong demand for natural and organic meat, with one-fifth purchasing these products.