The family unit is busy and getting busier. Of all married couple households in the United States, nearly half—48.3 percent in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—are dual-income families. Between jobs, children and social activities, American adult consumers are pressed for time and are looking for ways to fit proper meals into the schedule.
The Power of Meat 2018 Survey, sponsored by Sealed Air’s Food Care Division and published by the Food Marketing Institute and the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Research & Education, noted that shoppers increasingly integrate convenience-focused solutions in the meal lineup. The report does note that fresh meat represents the bulk of home prepared dinners, but shoppers are integrating convenience-focused solutions into their meal lineup.
“Both heat-and-eat and ready-to-eat meat/poultry are seeing increased household penetration and an increased consumption frequency,” the report states. “This growth is driven by Millennials—pointing to likely future growth for these segments.”
Another side effect of the hectic schedule is the decline of three meals per day. More consumers, whether it is due to a time crunch or supposed health benefits, are eating five smaller meals throughout the day rather than the standard breakfast-lunch-dinner schedule. Those consumers are going to want something smaller and nutritious, and meat, particularly the thriving meat snack market, plays to those needs perfectly.
Among other trends predicted for 2019:
Kroger states that consumers will see a growing number of products influenced by local, regional and global tastes. It included Nashville hot chicken and Southern Appalachian pimento cheese as foods that will find more mainstream appeal. The retailer also predicted that plant-based options will continue to grow. Last year, 31% of consumers participated in meat-free days once per week.
Whole Foods stated that Pacific Rim flavors will pop up more often in grocery stores. The longanisa, a Filipino pork sausage, is included in that cuisine, as are fruits like mango, pineapple and passionfruit.
Tyson Foods predicts that transparency will continue to drive consumer interest in 2019. Thanks to continued technological developments, food can be tracked from farm to table more easily than ever before. New barcode technology, the company says, is enabling shoppers to scan a product code with their smart phone and see the farm the chicken came from, how far it traveled and even view a picture of the farmer who raised it. Thirty-nine percent of consumers say they are willing to switch to brands that use more transparent labels.
Trendsetters: Redoing the rotisserie
Rotisserie chicken has become a popular take-home meal for busy consumers, both for its convenience and for its versatility. While the product itself has been in grocery stores for ages, the issue of convenience is causing consumers to appreciate the product all over again. The rotisserie, then, is a prime area for redevelopment and innovation.
This past July, Golden West Food Group announced it was offering a Certified Angus Beef brand Beeftisserie roast and an American BBQ Co. Porktisserie roast. The products are hand-cut by Golden West and are slow-roasted in-store.
For a product like a rotisserie or a Beeftisserie to work, it has to stand up to abuse, points out Brett Erickson, director of value-added products at Certified Angus Beef. It could sit in a warming box for several hours, and when a consumer does take it home, they may use the product in a variety of ways.
“We recognize that the rotisserie chicken has become a staple item within most shoppers’ weekly menu because it’s a simple, quick meal solution for the evening when we’re rushed to get something on the table,” he says. “So we tried to look at what the rotisserie chicken is doing today, and [determine] how we take that model and incorporate a beef item that can do the same thing.”
After experimenting with several muscles, Certified Angus Beef settled on the tri-tip for the Beeftisserie. The marbling within the CAB product allows it to take the abuse that comes from the cooking and holding process.
“Even if the consumer buys that rotisserie after it’s sat in the warming box for three hours and takes it home to her family, it’s still going to be moist, it’s still going to be tender, still going to be juicy and flavorful, and it will still meet her expectations,” Erickson says.
As an added bonus, the Beeftisserie is a boneless product. When consumers buy a rotisserie chicken, they’re throwing away a good portion of the product weight when they dispose of the skeleton. With the Beeftisserie, 100 percent of the purchase can be eaten.
Trendsetters: Biltong breaks through
One of the trends that Kroger identified for 2019 is that consumers will continue to look for ways to remove sugar from their diets. Should that trend carry over to the meat snacks, then consumers will look to biltong. It may look like jerky and have similar qualities to jerky, but biltong is definitely not jerky. It’s a separate product, and the companies that offer it are hoping that it can capture a share of the American meat snack market.
The product originated in Africa, where the traditional methods of preserving meat by drying it merged with the European introduction of vinegar. Unlike jerky, the meat is not marinated prior to drying and contains much less sugar. Stryve, a new meat snack company, originally sold jerky bites before discovering the health benefits of biltong. The company is now building the largest biltong plant in the country and making the product its focus.
“Consumers are not looking for another ‘me too’ option, a change of packaging or a change of flavor,” says Stryve co-founder and CEO Gabe Carimi. “They’re looking for a product that has beneficials to them, be it taste, flavor, micronutrients or a lack of preservatives. Everyone has their own specific [need], and biltong hits on a lot of those factors.”
Carimi, a former NFL offensive lineman, partnered with two veterans in the supplemental nutrition market to develop a line of healthy protein snacks. Biltong fit the bill, and the company is building a state-of-the-art facility in Oklahoma that will have 10 times the capacity of its two current plants.
Stryve biltong was released in August 2017. Flavors for the slices include Original, Zesty Garlic, Peri-Peri, Smoked and Teriyaki, while biltong sticks are available in Original, Mesquite BBQ, Hatch Green Chile and Spicy Peri-Peri. While all three partners are heavily involved in the sports nutrition and fitness world, they are determined to make biltong available to the mass audience.
“I know from buyers we have talked to at every channel, they are tasked to grow their category without growing their set. If you want to grow a category by adding another jerky, that’s a pretty hard task. How well can you market another jerky? We are a complete unique option to the U.S. consumer,” Carimi says.