Two year-end reports differ as to whether U.S. meat and poultry consumption has slowed or declined but both agree that chicken is gaining market share as recession weary consumers opt for value.
The U.S. Livestock Marketing Information Centre reports that poultry and red meat consumption in the U.S. fell to a 7-year low of 221.3 lbs per capita in 2007 and could drop a further 3 lbs in 2008, the lowest amount since 2001. LMIC attributes the decline to fourth quarter reductions in output by producers in response to sharply lower market returns. Further declines are forecast for 2009 and 2010 based on reduced breeding herd numbers in Canada and the U.S. LMIC forecasts U.S. consumption of 211.6 pounds in 2009, a decline of 6 pounds from 2008 and 10 pounds from the record in 2007.
Packaged Facts reports the value of chicken sales in the U.S. rose by 6.7% in 2008 as beef sales dipped and pork sales slowed. The ‘Fresh Meat Market in the U.S.” report attributes the trend to “recession-battered grocery shoppers looking to cut back, noting that sales of premium red meats were hardest hit by increasingly value-conscious consumers. Curiously, consumers are still willing to pay a premium for meats with natural and organic claims. Packaged Facts estimates that 31% of retail meat was labeled natural in 2008, up from 24% in 2007.
The trend to branded products in the fresh meat case continues. The report estimates that 50% of retail meat was supplier branded in 2008, up 4% from 2007. Consumers, it concludes, will play a premium for meat if they can trust the quality.