Beef remains biggest player in the meat case

Jan 6, 2012
by WLJ

The latest National Meat Case Study, conducted through a joint effort of The Beef Checkoff Program, the National Pork Board and the Sealed Air’s Cryovac Food Packaging Unit, revealed beef remains the biggest player in the meat case, with a typical store featuring about 60 unique beef products.

The study is conducted every three years and provides a comprehensive look at how meat is merchandised in the retail case, examining product carried and information provided on the label or in the case. For the 2010 study, surveyors audited 133 retail supermarkets and club stores in 51 metro markets across 31 states. In total, they noted the number of packages for each major protein, logged the type of cut, the weight of the package, the presence of bilingual information, cooking instructions and nutritional information.

They noted whether the product was store wrapped or had been shipped into the store pre-wrapped (case ready).

In 2010, 61 percent of all packages audited included nutritional information; however, the numbers for beef were somewhat different, with 29 percent of whole muscle cuts, and 81 percent of ground beef packages bearing nutritional information. Thirty-nine percent of all packages included cooking information, with 36 percent of beef whole muscle cuts and 34 percent of ground beef including some type of cooking suggestion.

Two of the most significant changes seen in the 2010 study were in branding and the use of case ready product to stock the case. Overall, 66 percent of the protein packages were case ready, an increase from 49 percent in 2002. Comparable numbers for case ready steak were 11 percent in 2002, and 29 percent in the 2010 audit; 71 percent of total ground beef is now case ready.

Results also found a significant increase in the percentage of beef that is now store branded, and increased differentiation in retailer programs is expected over time. Merchandising also is shifting toward more consumer friendliness, and a greater percentage of packages including nutritional and cooking information.

Store-level merchandising techniques targeting Hispanic consumers were measured for the first time in the 2010 National Meat Case Study. Nine percent of steaks in the case were identified as thin cuts, which are popular in Hispanic meals. Indicating the popularity of beef in the Hispanic diet, 11 percent of beef whole muscle packages and 17 percent of ground beef packages included bilingual information. — WLJ