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Meat Conference 2015: Big opportunities in natural packaged meats for conventional retailers

Meat Conference 2015: Big opportunities in natural packaged meats for conventional retailers

Sales of natural packaged meat are far outpacing sales of conventional packaged meat, and conventional retailers should take note, according to the presentation “Navigating the Growth Demand for Natural and Organic Meat.”

“Natural is driving a lot of the growth that we're seeing at retail,” said Clay Sayers, director, consulting at SPINS.

UPC-coded natural meat had only 144 million pounds of volume sales in 2014 compared to 6.3 billion pounds for conventional meat, but natural meat has grown 37% since 2012 while conventional meat volume is flat.

At the same time, dollar sales of natural packaged meat have grown 23% in the past year compared to 5% for conventional products. Because natural only represents 3% of all products there is a big opportunity for that category to grow, said Sayers.

Last year, 22% of all U.S. households purchased natural meat, and 50% of those were first-time buyers, said Mary Ellen Lynch, director for consumer insights at SPINS. Two million more households bought natural meat in 2014 than in 2013.

However, the consumers that SPINS considers the core natural shoppers account for three quarters of natural packaged meat dollar sales.

Consumers of all types are most buying the products with claims like hormone-free, nitrate-free and antibiotic-free, although grass-fed is the claim with the most sales growth. In general, consumers want more information about the meat they buy.

“If there's one thing to take away from the conversation today its transparency, and that's king for the natural consumer,” said Sayers.

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