Interest in vegan and vegetarian diets and plant-based products has grown in recent years. But, according to a new report by the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and The Food Industry Association (FMI), meat eaters still dominate the food landscape—by a wide margin.
The report, “Power of Meat,” found the vast majority of Americans (78%) consider themselves meat eaters, compared to 7% of people who claim to be vegetarian or vegan.
Plus, how frequently shoppers visit the meat department and how much they spend when they’re there ticked up nearly 5% compared to 2019, the report found.
However, rising costs may be impacting how much meat shoppers are buying. Per the report, the amount of meat shoppers bought in 2022 decreased 2.5% compared to 2021.
When shopping for meat, price is a leading factor influencing purchase decisions. Shoppers said they consider price per pound and total package price when purchasing meat products, after product quality and appearance, which were the leading factors behind consumers’ meat-buying behaviors.
What’s more, the number of Americans who said they’re looking to eat less meat or chicken in order to save money tripled since 2020. Of the 33% of Americans who said they are looking to eat less meat or chicken, 52% cite cost as the reason—up from 16% in 2020.
Grocery prices were hit hard by inflation in 2022, and the meat aisle was one of the categories most affected by rising prices. Of all food categories, frozen meat saw the highest inflationary rate in June 2022 of 28%.
To combat rising costs at the grocery store, a large number of consumers (76%) reported they’ve switched up their shopping habits. These swaps include changing the amount, type, cut and/or brand of meat they purchase or changing where they shop for meat.
Half of consumers said they buy their meat from supermarkets and slightly more than a third (35%) turn to supercenters, while a smaller number shop at club stores (4%) and hard discounters (5%) for meat.
More than one-third are also saving money by stocking up on meat when it’s on sale and using coupons (35%). Slightly less than half (42%) said they save money on meat purchases by only buying what they need.
Some shoppers (17%) are also buying fewer premium options, including less meat with claims like “organic” or “grass-fed.” A slightly smaller number (16%) said they’re cooking more meatless meals to save money.
However, the majority of consumers still opt for convenient options, like pre-marinated, pre-cut or pre-seasoned meat. In fact, these purchases increased dramatically in recent years, with 73% of shoppers reporting they sometimes or frequently bought these products in 2022, compared to 60% in 2020.
Rachel Adams joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products INSIDER, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. Adams left Informa Markets in 2019.