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After a number of years in which consumers implemented a variety of money saving measures - including the use of coupons, making of lists, buying in bulk and switching to private label items - supermarket shoppers increased their net spending during the past 12 months for the first time in three years. However, the annual “Power of Meat” study, conducted by 210 Analytics and commissioned jointly by the American Meat Institute (AMI) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), also suggests that “while some shoppers still spent less on groceries than they did a year ago, the share of shoppers who have made changes to their meat and poultry purchases as a result of the economy  declined for the second year in a row, down from 51 percent in 2009 to 36 percent today.”

The biggest findings, according to Anne-Marie Roerink, who presented the results of the study to the AMI/FMI Meat Conference in Dallas yesterday, are that among shoppers who are looking to save on overall food spending, a growing share is trying to spend less by buying less (49%), instead of applying so-called money-saving measures.

Importantly, average weekly spending among shoppers who are trying to save by limiting their purchases is $13 less than the average population ($83 versus $96).

And, when asked what the meat retailing industry can do to improve the meat department to encourage meat purchases, 40% of shoppers said nothing would influence them to buy more. This is up from 20% in 2007 – in other words double the share – challenging retailers and manufacturers in their marketing and merchandising every step of the way.

One thing, however, hasn’t changed: the meat department continues to be a key differentiator for full-service supermarkets. Supermarkets maintained their market share as respondents’ primary store for meat and poultry purchases at 68 percent. When taking a look at shoppers who identify their primary store as a supermarket, the vast majority, 88 percent, also purchase meat there.

Other excerpts from the study:

• While home-cooked meals made a strong comeback, shoppers don’t necessarily know how to cook meat and poultry. Less than half consider themselves very knowledgeable in areas such as cooking meat, poultry and seafood, and significant numbers admit room for improvement on things like picking sides that match the meat’s flavor profile, pairing the right wine with the meal, marinating and spicing meat and poultry, and even the USDA beef grading system.”

• “When it comes to healthy eating, respondents said they were most likely to cut back on portion sizes or second helpings, followed by choosing foods that are lower in sodium than their regular counterparts. A majority said they are not willing to give up meat regularly compared to those who have implemented ‘meatless Mondays’ (26 percent versus 18 percent).

• “Healthy eating strategies relative to protein consumption differ widely by gender, age, income and other factors. Women are much more likely to limit their meat and poultry consumption, for example.”
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