Natural/Organic Meat Shopping on the Rise: Survey

Some grocery spending is down but natural and organic meat and poultry shopping is up for the first time in years, according to the “2012 Power of Meat,” an annual study by the American Meat Institute, Food Marketing Institute and Sealed Air’s Cryovac Food Packaging Div.

This is the seventh annual report exploring consumer perceptions, attitudes and behaviors regarding fresh meat and poultry and food shopping and preparation in general. For the 2012 report, 1,340 people were surveyed in November 2011. The study explored a number of topics including consumer consumption and purchasing patterns, nutrition, marketing techniques, consumer interest in organic and natural meat, packaging and labeling. Some of its bullet points:

* Americans buying less groceries to reduce spending: The report found that of the shoppers who reduced grocery spending in 2011, 45 percent reduced their spending by simply buying less. This is nearly the same as the share of people who reduced their grocery spending by using lists, coupons and buying private label products.

* Natural and organic meat/poultry purchases increase for the first time in years: Natural and organic meat and poultry markets attracted new users in 2011 after several years of being flat. 24 percent of shoppers reported purchasing natural and/organic meat/poultry in the three months preceding the study, up from 20 percent the year before.

* Consumers frying less, slow-cooking more: Over the past five years, consumers reported frying less, with a 22 percentage-point decrease in frying as a meal preparation method. Use of slow cookers and ovens in meal preparation increased 12 percentage points over the past five years.

* Household income influencing meat and poultry purchases: Household income is a direct factor in frequency of meat and poultry consumption, as shoppers who experienced a drop in household income tend to eat meat and poultry less frequently -- an average of 3.8 dinners a week -- versus the average four dinners a week for most Americans.

* 51 percent of shoppers checked processed meat ingredients for sodium content, the first time this share exceeded 50 percent.

* Awareness of Country of Origin Labeling rose to 39 percent versus 33 percent in 2011, although it has little reported influence on purchasing decisions if the price of U.S. meat or poultry is higher.

* 28 percent of shoppers said they would purchase more meat and poultry if it were in environmentally friendly materials, even if it costs a little more; 49 percent said they would only purchase more if there was no price difference.

The Executive Summary is available for free download on the Cryovac site (http://cryovac.com/na/en/pdf/POM_summary.pdf). The full report can be purchased off the FMI site (www.fmi.org/forms/store/ProductFormPublic/search?action=1&Product_productNumber=2374) or the AMI site (www.meatami.com/index.php?display=GeneralSearch&action=AddSearchTermAction&searchstring=power+of+meat).

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