“Every single year we see that shoppers are very knowledgeable when it comes to saving money, but when it comes to cooking — not so much,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal at 210 Analytics, which conducted the consumer survey.
The report, published by the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute, found that 55% of shoppers said their skills could be much better or they need help with preparing fresh poultry, 60% for fresh meat and 68% for fish and seafood.
“It’s just striking to see that there’s not one single one of our categories that generates at least half of shoppers that say, ‘Yeah, I got this,’” regarding preparation confidence, said Roerink.
Eighty percent of shoppers said they don’t understand the nutritional profile of meat, she said.
“And I think the main conclusion here is there is an enormous opportunity for the industry as a whole— whether you’re a packer or a producer or a retailer — to connect with the shopper and educate them.”
Roerink pointed out that when customers understand an activity they like it more and do it more, and studies have shown that liking grocery shopping leads to spending more and greater customer loyalty.
“Educating can really create that lifelong love for cooking and preparing meat and poultry. And that might just be one of the ways to get our volume back up as an industry,” she said.
Only 5% of shoppers said they go to their in-store butcher when they are looking for help with how to prepare a protein in a meal.
While “mom/family/friend” was the main resource for cooking in the past, now more consumers are looking to digital resources for help — 27% overall. In a consumer focus group video, one shopper said he feels like he would be bothering the in-store butcher if he asked questions.
Shoppers showed interest in “here’s how you do it” programs in the meat department with 29% saying they would definitely use the service and 54% saying they would maybe use it.
“Today about 73% of stores have a full-service department so we have at least some personnel or a butcher available, yet consumers are not making the click to ask the actual expert,” Roerink said.
The Power of Meat report was presented along with an industry panel reflecting on the report’s findings.
Tom Sargent, senior coordinator commodity procurement, meat merchandising, Kroger Co., said the butcher situation tugs at his heart.
“The butcher of today is not what we once knew that it was. We do understand that we need to have a subject matter expert behind the counter to help the customer in that service and satisfaction area,” said Sargent.
“They like someone to pick out an item for them. Someone to say, ‘This is the best way to cook this.’ So we know that we need it. We are actually at Kroger working to reestablish that position.”
The Power of Meat report was sponsored by Cryovac Sealed Air.