Meat consumption in terms of volume actually increased in the United States during 2009, but the amount spent was lower, due to lower prices and consumers turning to cheaper cuts. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of those who had seen a significant drop in household income said that meat consumption was an area in which they had made changes.
The report, The Power of Meat, from the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute, was based on an online poll of 1,174 consumers and was conducted in November 2009.
The survey found that the price of meat and meat-based pre-prepared meals is the most important factor when considering whether to buy, “well ahead of appearance”.
Meat consumption has also been impacted by those looking to cut back as a way to improve their health, the industry bodies found. Respondents said that for health reasons, they were most likely to cut back on portion sizes, select lower-sodium processed meats, and choose fish or seafood more often.
“Some shoppers are cutting back on their meat intake both from a savings point of view and as a strategy to improve their diets. In terms of ingredients, shoppers’ focus is back to fat, sodium and calories,” the organizations said.
The proportion of shoppers buying organic meat has stayed relatively stable, they found. Eighteen percent of those surveyed said they had bought organic meat at some point during the past three months, with young people most likely to buy organic.
The top reasons cited for choosing organic meat were long-term health effects and nutritional value.
The survey also found that most people are not loyal to branded meat – with 74 percent of shoppers saying brand is an unimportant factor for fresh meat, and 62 percent saying the same for processed meat.