Progressive Grocer

FEB 2017

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2017 Retail Meat Review Editor's Note: Pr o gressive Gr ocer 's companion Re tail Seafoo d Review will appear in the March 2017 issue. Making Connections Healthy outlook for meat sales could be even bet ter with the right sales str ategies. By Jim Dudlicek I ndustry analysts indicate that meat consumption is rebounding: Stabilized prices, especially for beef, along with a renewed interest in protein and a desire for "real" food, have created a prime growth environment for meat. At the same time, a shift among many consumers, particularly younger folks, away from animal proteins and toward plant-based foods appears to be acting as a counterbalance. According to the results of Progressive Grocer's latest exclusive survey of chain and independent retailers from across the country, just over a quarter of respondents said that their meat sales increased during most of 2016 — well below the 46 percent who said a year ago that they anticipated an upswing in meat department sales. Yet despite these results, optimism remains strong; well more than half of respondents to this year's survey said that they expect their meat sales to grow during 2017. USDA projections seem to support retailers' expectations. As economist David Widmar wrote for AgEconomists.com last October, 2016 per capita total red meat and poultry consumption was forecast at 215 pounds and expected to reach 218 pounds in 2017. If this bears out, Widmar notes, U.S. per capita meat consumption in 2016 would be at its highest level in eight years. Meanwhile, USDA predicts continued declines in farm-level cattle and whole- sale beef prices, and 1 percent to 2 percent increases in wholesale pork prices for 2017, notes Michael Uetz, principal with Chicago-based meat industry consul- tancy Midan Marketing. "ey say we can expect beef and pork consumer prices to decline an additional 1 to 2 percent in 2017, given an increase in supply of both proteins," he says. "at should help increase volume sales." is comes after consumption fell as low as 202 pounds between 2008 and 2014, with Widmer calling the idea of a complete rebound "pretty impressive" — indeed, considering the reported trend toward proteins other than from animal sources. But America's appetite for meat appears to be buoyed by the overall trend in pro- tein consumption, as well as meat suppliers' efforts to deliver on increasing demands for natural, humanely raised and clean-label products. February 2017 | progressiveg rocer.com | 77

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