Although the pandemic has turned our world upside done, it also shed a light on consumers buying habits. Americans are buying more beef, pork, poultry, and lamb than ever as increased time at home during the pandemic sent meat grocery sales soaring by 20 percent (IRI) from 2019 to 2020.
The national analysis released today shows that three out of every four Americans agree meat belongs in healthy, balanced diets (up by nearly 20 percent since 2020), and 94 percent say they buy meat because it provides high-quality protein.
Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts said, “Americans feel better than ever about choosing meat as part of healthy, balanced diets. With COVID-19 deepening demand for convenient, affordable food that tastes good and matches Americans’ values, meat fits the bill.”
Nearly all American households (98.4 percent) purchased meat in 2020 (IRI), and 43 percent of Americans now buy more meat than before the pandemic — primarily because they are preparing more meals at home.
The proportion of meals prepared at home peaked at 89 percent in April 2020 and remained at 84 percent in December (IRI), considerably above pre-pandemic levels and particularly impacting Millennials who were previously most likely to eat out.
The number of meat shoppers who purchased groceries online grew 40 percent in 2020, and the majority of online purchasers (59 percent) expect to continue purchasing about the same amount online in 2021, suggesting food shopping habits may have changed permanently.
Americans are also embracing new cooking methods (ownership of air fryers increased 24 percent) and turning to digital sources for recipe inspiration (YouTube use is up 50 percent) and promotions (consulting digital circulars for promotions increased 33 percent).
“Shoppers are cooking more at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their confidence in cooking and preparing meat has increased,” said Rick Stein, Vice President of Fresh Foods for FMI — The Food Industry Association. “Further analysis also shows convenient meal solutions are key and that food retailers have opportunities to provide more choices, along with more information and education on consumer priorities like nutrition and meal preparation — building up what we call consumers’ Meat IQ.”
The Power of Meat study was conducted by 210 Analytics on behalf of FMI — The Food Industry Association and the Meat Institute’s Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education and released during the American Meat Conference.