In the past several years, the convenience store sector has emerged as an important and rapidly growing outlet for U.S. pork and beef in international markets. This year is no exception, though the sector has made significant adjustments to accommodate changing consumer routines and preferences during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Jesse Austin, USMEF vice president for marketing, explained that many countries have seen a dramatic increase in people working from home, so convenience stores in central business districts have seen a decline in sales while convenience store sales have increased in residential areas.
While overall traffic has been lower, customers are still spending more per visit. Austin said U.S. pork and beef are well-positioned to capitalize on consumers' growing demand for convenient food items that are also high in quality.
“Another trend driving sales is the increase in the premium U.S. meat products being offered in convenience stores now. The Japanese consumer can eat very well at a convenience store.”
Examples of offerings include a premium beef rice bowl that was introduced this year and newly launched single-serving smoked sausage products from a U.S. processor. “That’s a really big win for processed pork in the Japanese market.”
He said that while Japan is definitely the global pacesetter in terms of convenience store offerings, new products have also been launched in key markets such as South Korea and Mexico.
“We do expect this trend to continue.”