What can supermarkets do to inspire more meat purchases?

There are a number of ways to influence consumer purchases of poultry, pork and beef, both during meal planning and in store.

26 November 2018
image credit: Getty Images

How can shoppers be encouraged to buy more meat? A study from market researcher Future Thinking, commissioned by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, has outlined the areas where consumers can be influenced.

The report found that meal planning is a big opportunity for pushing meat, with 67% of shoppers considering taste, 59% quality and 42% suitability for the whole family. During the week, priorities for cooking include good value (61%), easy to cook (58%) and convenience (56%).

But this changes at the weekend, where people looking are for a bit of a treat (47%), something a bit different (35%) and a bit of a challenge (21%)

Food Spark outlines the key findings to put in the shopping basket.

Types of meat

For meat-eaters, the type of meat is the main driver when planning their meals. This was the case for 65% of people surveyed, compared with ingredient availability (52%) and the type of cuisine (46%).

So how are meats and their cuts currently perceived?

Chicken: breasts and diced pieces are the best solution for weekday meals, due to good value and health. But high usage in the week may hinder use at weekends, as it is no longer viewed as a treat.

Pork: while strongly associated with chops, it scores well on value, ease of cooking and has an advantage in taste over other meats. However, perceptions on the healthiness of pork and ‘for the whole family’ may hinder its use in regular weekday meals.

Lamb: a joint in particular is best suited for a weekend meal as it is seen as a tasty, high-quality treat, but it lacks the criteria of a weekday meal in terms of value, ease of cooking and health.

Beef: most commonly associated with mince and steaks, it has the opportunity to play all week-parts, with consumers understanding the ease of mince for weekdays and the treat element of steaks for weekends. However, beef is hindered by health perceptions, particularly for mince.

Added value cuts: things like roast in a bag, ready to cook and sous vide lack a unique selling point. While consumers understand it is quick to cook, it is perceived as the unhealthiest option and lacks quality credentials

The advice? Play on the existing strengths of each meat and emphasis ease of cooking and health for weekday meals, while on weekends something new is more persuasive.


What are consumers open to in added value?

  • Roast in the bag joints: 50% of respondents would consider buying them
  • Ready to cook items like hunters’ chicken or lamb shanks in gravy: 51% would consider purchasing
  • Raw joints/steaks with accompanying sauce, butter or rub, or marinated barbecue products: 38% are open to these items
  • Sous vide like pork ribs, brisket or pulled pork: 25% would be interested


Meal planning

On average, 60% of respondents chose what meat to purchase in their last shop while at home. Chicken and beef were the most popular.

The advice? The big opportunity is for pork and lamb, particularly steaks, chops and joints, where decisions are more likely to be made out of home. Enjoyment and health are elements that should be dialled up pre-store.

image credit: Getty Images


The most influential factor at fixture when selecting meat was taste and the ability to cook easily and quickly (both mentioned by 34%), followed by price (31%). Falling outside the top three but close behind (all at 24%) was knowing how to cook the meat, enjoyment and being part of a specific meal. An opportunity is display, where 45% of respondents claim there is a current a lack of inspiration.

When it comes to time spent selecting meat, shoppers spend on average between 41 and 84 seconds when considering their purchase decision, but selection time varies by cut of each meat.

Shoppers appear to spend more time selecting pork and beef products, which indicates they consider the appearance of steak and chops more important than, say, chicken breasts, which only take 24 seconds to choose. For mince, which is most strongly linked to beef, dwell time was surprisingly high at 78 seconds, which could be attributed in part to the wide range on offer.

Unsurprisingly, a roasting joint (not chicken whole bird, which is 43 seconds) takes the longest time to select at 82 seconds. This is probably the biggest investment and used for ‘special’ meals

The advice? The report suggests retailers use navigation and signage to guide and inspire shoppers, design packaging and point of sale fixtures to bring convenience and taste/enjoyment factors to life, use imagery to show delicious cooked products, via recipe cards or on pack, as well as provide information on ease of cooking.

However, it’s not just about the meat aisle either. As meat is the star of the show, focus on messaging throughout the store, including displays showcasing inspiring meals in different aisles, can encourage a meat purchase.

Price and promotions

For 30% of people, at least one piece of meat was bought on promotion. In fact, 47% of switches are due to price or promotions.

The advice? Promotional mechanics should be used, particularly with meats and cuts that are generally unplanned purchases such as pork, lamb and added value, rather than the meats and cuts that are typically purchased anyway like chicken and beef mince.

There is an opportunity to push promotions harder at weekends when experimenting with new cuts is more likely. If promotions are not an option, helping a consumer understand the ‘value’ of the purchase via other messages will be beneficial to justify higher prices.


Meat market

  • Although there was no strong winner for ‘most important’ factor when buying meat in general, 14% of shoppers said price was a top priority. This was followed by taste (11%), enjoyment (9%) and British/local (8%). Appearance of the meat was a close fifth.
  • For British/local, 25% claim it is an important consideration for a meat purchase but, once at fixture, it played a role for only 9% of shoppers. Other product credentials such as quality standards, welfare, breed and nutrition show a similar pattern and fall outside of the top drivers discussed.

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