A Store Brands web exclusive: Bite into sales of packaged meat


Global per-capita consumption of meat averages 102 pounds per year, but Americans eat more meat per-capita than almost any other country, a hefty 271 pounds per year, states “Meat and Poultry Trends in the U.S.,” an April 2013 report from the Packaged Facts division of Rockville, Md.-based And when it comes to packaged meats, from sausages and bratwursts to bacon and deli cuts, well let’s just say that Americans have a special place in their heart for them.

However, meat consumption has been on the decline in the United States for more than a decade, Packaged Facts reports, due to a variety of factors, including rising meat prices and health concerns. Nevertheless, meat is still considered the main course for many home meals, which means that the opportunity still exists for retailers to increase sales of store brand packaged meats.

Offer many price points

One factor that contributed to the fall in demand for meat products was the Great Recession, Packaged Facts states. And during the recession, consumers also regularly switched to less-expensive proteins and meat cuts, as well as to retailers’ store brands, which offered a better price-value proposition, the market research firm adds.

Years later, this cautious consumer continues to focus on price and value rather than brand loyalty when purchasing packaged meats, states Joe Pryweller, analyst for Cincinnati-based Freedonia Group. Additionally, retailers should keep in mind that millennials, a group known for the lack of brand loyalty and possessing increasing buying power, are often attracted to and willing to try store brand products, he adds.

To attract as wide a range of consumers as possible, Edward Kelly, Jr., director of sales, retail for Godshall’s Quality Meats Inc., Telford, Pa., recommends using a tiered store brand program for packaged meat. The meat case attracts a wide variety of consumers, so retailers should offer private label packaged meats at a variety of price points.

Provide healthful alternatives

But money, or lack thereof, isn’t the only reason why meat consumption has fallen in recent years. Consumers are increasingly aware of and concerned about the effect a diet rich in meat could have on their health, states “Lunch Meat — US,” a report from global market research firm Mintel.

For example, consumers are concerned about the fillers, nitrates/nitrites, sodium and fat levels found in some packaged meats, the report says. Additionally, antibiotics and growth hormones are of concern to consumers. Addressing these concerns by developing better-for-you options or reformulating existing ones will likely go a long way in assuaging these fears.

The better-for-you trend in packaged meat isn’t going away, says Robert Gay, marketing director for Homewood, Ill.-based Carl Buddig and Co. If retailers want to connect with consumers and drive incremental growth, they should continue to focus their innovation platforms around this trend, he adds. He gives the example of his own company, which developed its Deli Cuts brand to be 95 percent fat-free and certified by the American Heart Association.

But no matter how healthful a retailer’s store brand packaged meat might be, it also needs to appeal to the consumer’s palate. With the rise of the “Foodie,” new products that promise innovative flavors reflecting global, regional, ethnic and restaurant-inspired cuisine will likely see the most success, Packaged Facts states.

“The food industry has never been more active with consumers looking for new and different types of food,” Kelly says. “The opportunities lie with retailers bringing unique items and flavors to their [private label packaged meats].”

Supply smaller packages

Another way retailers could cultivate a loyal consumer base is by addressing their concerns about packaging, Pryweller states. With average household sizes continuing to dwindle, products in smaller packages can be very appealing to consumers, he adds. These smaller packages are more convenient for time-pressed consumers and address spoilage and waste concerns, states “Chilled Processed Food in the US,” a March 2013 report from Euromonitor International, Chicago. The report gives the example of the national brand Johnsonville Sausage, which introduced in 2012 a line of precooked sausages in packages of two.

Additionally, retailers could keep in mind that variety packs featuring two or three different types of deli meat, packaged in a larger pouch, are becoming more prevalent and of interest to consumers, Pryweller says. This type of packaging conveniently allows the consumer to have small amounts of different types of meat all in a single package.

“Retailers need to keep their private label packaging fresh,” Kelly adds. “The branded manufacturers are constantly tweaking their packaging to keep them updated and popping to the consumer eye. Private brands need to do the same.”

Hand out samples

Once a retailer has a product it is proud of and confident in, it should make a large effort to sample it to consumers, Kelly states. Consumers love to taste new products, and product lift is undeniable when demonstrations are tied to it, he adds. In-store demos create awareness and promote initial trial and are worth the internal funding required to promote the product.

Beyond sampling, on-pack stickers are ideal for communicating product attribute claims and promoting various consumer promotions throughout the year, Gay states. And in-store media, such as shelf-talkers and floor-talkers, help to break through the noise created by other brands, he adds. Shelf-talkers and floor-talkers are especially effective because they can use imagery to create an emotional connection with the consumer while touting the product’s benefits.