Meat and poultry products are consumer favorites, food industry mainstays and protein powerhouses — all factors that will keep the U.S. industry for animal protein growing despite challenges from plant-based protein alternatives, according to market research firm Packaged Facts.
The firm's new report, “Meat & Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends & Opportunities,” examines the current and predicted U.S. retail market for meat and poultry products, including fresh, frozen and processed products, as well as meat substitutes. It also discusses topics such as consumer trends, value-added products, animal welfare and consumer attitudes.
Packaged Facts projects that total retail sales of meat, poultry and meat substitutes will be just shy of $100 billion in 2021. Due to its higher price point, meat will dominate dollar sales despite still trailing poultry in per-capita consumption volume. Meat substitutes will account for less than $2 billion of the projected total.
Yet, despite the popularity and projected growth of meat, this is not an industry without its fair share of scrutiny, said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.
“Meat continues to evolve and be re-evaluated by consumers in the wake of years of consciousness-raising on several topics, including humane animal treatment, meat processing and nutrition,” he said.
Thus, in the years ahead, Packaged Facts predicts that consumers will be mindful of their meat consumption, whether for economic, caloric, dietary or ecological reasons. For those who seek out sustainable meat and poultry, specialty products like grass-fed or local beef, heritage poultry and even wild boar will be on point. Consumers will look to meat professionals to connect them with these products, explain the product benefits and educate them on how these products are best prepared and served, the report suggested.
“Consumers minding their pocketbook will take cues from how cultures around the world make less-expensive cuts like brisket taste great. Likewise, retail sales of meat will also receive a boost from growth in consumption of pork, which is expected to maintain its low cost advantage over beef,” the report noted.
Additionally, it said many previously overlooked cuts of pork — such as pork shoulder — are experiencing a resurgence in popularity both at retail and in restaurants. Retail sales of poultry are also expected to increase over the ensuing five years, supported by poultry’s cost advantages relative to many types of meat. “A further advantage for chicken: Health authorities such as the American Heart Assn. continue to encourage consumption of poultry and seafood as alternatives to red meat.”
With convenience and portability a trend across the food and beverage industry, the report said consumers seeking high-protein meat snacks will find a plethora of meat jerky, meat snack bars and meat sticks available, as well as crunchy cracklings from high-quality pork, plus plant- and nut-based meat substitutes.