Grocery sales of beef, pork, poultry and lamb jumped 20% between 2019 and 2020, according to a national analysis released by the Meat Institute and the Food Industry Association (FMI).
Three out of every four Americans also agreed, when asked, that meat is part of a healthy, balanced diet -- also up nearly 20% since 2020. Some 94% said they buy meat because it is a high-quality form of protein.
This may mark a major shift in consumer attitude about meat, following generational shifts that seemed to show some groups moving away from meat consumption in whole, or part. The study showed that 43% of Americans said they buy more meat now than before the pandemic, largely because they are doing more at-home meal prep.
Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the Meat Institute, noted that: "Americans feel better than ever about choosing meat as part of healthy, balanced diets. With COVID-19 deepening demand for convenient, affordable food that tastes good and matches American's values, meat fits the bill."
As more people are vaccinated and restaurants continue to reopen, will these numbers mark more than a temporary shift? The study says meat shoppers say they expect to continue to buy groceries online, and they will continue to buy about the same amount in 2021 as they did in 2020. This could indicate that food shopping, and perhaps consumption patterns, have changed permanently.
Rick Stein, vice president of Fresh Foods, speaking for FMI, says the key to making this shift a long-term pattern has to do with ease of preparation.
"Convenient meal solutions are key and that food retailers have opportunities to provide more choices, along with more information and education on consumer priorities like nutrition and meal preparation -- building on what we call consumers' 'meat IQ.'"
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