Meat consumption remains steady in the US with 80% of the population describing themselves as meat eaters and 98% of households purchasing meat.

This is revealed in the 19th Power of Meat report produced by the Meat Institute (MI) which represents meat processors in the US and the Food Industry Association (FMI).

The report is an in-depth analysis of US consumers food purchases in relation to meat and found that the 98% of households that bought meat spent $99bn ((€91bn) for the average 48 occasions that households bought meat.

This is broadly in line with the previous year's spend, up by 0.1% while the volume bought actually fell slightly, down 1%.

Shopper behaviour

The survey unsurprisingly found that not all meat shoppers were the same, with 30% accounting for 66% of meat sales.

The route to market is also changing - smaller traditional grocery sales were down from almost 43% of the total in the previous year to under 40% in the current survey.

Online sales had been increasing over recent years but were found to plateau this time round with the growth in sales coming from the superstores.

The drop in volume of sales was explained by higher retail process and the shopping trend of buying less frequently and less volume when they did so.

Meat retail prices increased by 2.1% over the year thought this was below the average food and beverage inflation rate of almost 6%. Prolonged inflation, however, has resulted in an increasing amount of meat purchases being bought when products are on promotion.

Health and welfare considerations

Consumer perception of meat was found to be positive in the survey with seven in 10 believing that meat is an overall healthy choice that provides fuel and essential nutrients.

It also found that meat consumers were giving more thought to the emissions from meat and animal welfare practices with 55% positive towards animal welfare practices, up from 43% in 2020.

As with consumers across the developed world, time is of the essence in meal preparation with 30-minute preparation time key. However, while 87% of home prepared meals feature meat, volumes were actually reduced in 2023 for the first time in several years.

Comment – US trends are reflected in Europe

While this survey by the US industry is focused on the United States, the findings broadly reflect trends across the developed world. Demand remains steady with slight reduction in volume purchased being offset by higher prices.

Consumers are buying very much to a budget which is inevitable at a time of high food price inflation as has been experienced globally over the past two years.

US consumers remain positive about meat but are influenced by price.

Volume sales are forecast to be static in the developed world over the next decade apart from poultry meat with beef and lamb volume increase coming from Asian markets in the main.

Overall consumer demand for meat remains robust in the US and there has been no mass displacement of meat products by plant or lab-based meat substitute alternatives.

Read more

Cattle prices hit US factory profits

Farmers cannot take hit in retail price wars