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A new study from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the American Meat Institute (AMI) says that meat departments can provide food retailers with a significant competitive advantage, and also that price is the most significant factor consumers use in determining what type of meat product to purchase.

“Effective meat marketing and merchandising strategies provide supermarkets with a prime opportunity to differentiate their stores from other venues and grow their customer base,” said FMI Senior Vice President Michael Sansolo.

Among the results of the study:

• The vast majority (86 percent) of shoppers who do most of their grocery shopping at supermarkets stay loyal to their primary supermarkets when buying meat. When seeking alternative outlets, they tend to prefer a warehouse club or butcher shop (4.7 percent each).

• In contrast, just more than half (58.7 percent) of shoppers who typically frequent supercenters to purchase weekly groceries also purchase meat products there, and more than one-quarter (26.5 percent) skip the supercenter meat aisle and buy their beef, chicken and pork at conventional supermarkets.

• Shoppers are equally split on the quantities of meat they purchase and when they use it. Slightly half (51 percent) buy meats in large quantities and freeze it for use over time, compared with shoppers (49 percent) who plan to use meat purchases within a few days.

• Price tends to have the greatest influence on the kind (cut or type), quantity and location of meat purchased. Almost 90 percent of shoppers compare meat prices within the store and 80 percent compare prices across multiple stores.

• Nearly one-fifth of shoppers (17.4 percent) have purchased organic meats in the past three months, and nearly half of these purchases (48 percent) were made at conventional supermarkets. Natural and organic food stores accounted for 29 percent of organic purchases, followed by butcher shops (10 percent), supercenters (9.3 percent) and warehouse clubs (1.1 percent). The reasons cited include superior taste, better nutritional value, long-term health benefits, enhanced product freshness and curiosity about the differences between organic and non-organic meats.

Beyond price considerations, shoppers identified key factors that would increase their overall meat purchases: better quality of meat products and cuts (50.5 percent), more/better variety of meat products and cuts (40.9 percent), more/better customer assistance and guidance (20.8 percent), more information on where meat is produced (17.7 percent), more/better recipes (13.9 percent), and more/better signage for meat categories (11.7 percent).
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