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Price Becomes Even Bigger Factor for Meat Shoppers

ORLANDO, Fla. — Price has always played a major role in the consumer's final decision when shopping supermarket meat departments, and that role appears to be growing, according to the seventh annual Power of Meat study, presented here today at the 2012 Annual Meat Conference, a joint production of the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute.

Most importantly, price per pound solidified its number-one ranking as the most important consumer decision factor, but total package cost is now the second most important factor that shoppers consider, making it more important than product appearance for the first time in the study's history.

“It's all about price. We've got some incredibly savvy consumers out there, and they're really cautious about what they are doing with their dollar today,” noted presenter Micheal Uetz, principal of Chicago-based Midan Marketing.

A large segment of shoppers continue to do “a tremendous amount of planning” both before they get to the store and while they are shopping, in an effort to get the best deals, Uetz said. The recession and the sluggish recovery has honed their shopping skills, and they are now able to dial up or dial down money saving measures quickly.

For meat and poultry, two predominant money-saving behaviors involve finding ways to buy products less expensively, either by watching for sales, using coupons, electing to buy cheaper cuts or switching to private label brands. The other strategy involves simply buying less. This has meant that rising prices in the meat case during the past year have been offset by a decrease in volume sales across all categories.

In addition, the popularity of private label meats continues to grow. However, the study indicated that consumers may not necessarily prefer private label meat and poultry. They may just be more willing to buy private label brands or switch from national brands based on price.

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