Retailers and foodservice operators are pursuing meat and poultry products that meet the health and wellness standards that are of great importance to today's consumers. According to market research publisher Packaged Facts in the report Meat and Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends and Opportunities, industry transformations are being driven by changes taking place in what consumers are seeking in the foods they purchase and even in where those purchases are made. One fourth of consumers say they have switched to healthier meat and poultry products within the last year, and all signs indicate that share will continue to grow.

These consumers are seeking out alternative shopping venues, such as farmers markets and natural food stores, as well as purchasing organic and natural meat and poultry products. Half of the respondents to a Packaged Facts survey noted that over the last few years they were eating less red meat than previously and over a quarter noted they were eating less poultry. Similarly, a third of respondents are currently eating more meatless meals than in the past and 15% are avoiding red meat completely. Despite those shifts, about 70% said they still prefer to get their protein from animal sources, and over half are willing to spend more for better-for-you meat and poultry products.

Health and wellness in the current vernacular is defined by what a product doesn't have, such as artificial ingredients or preservatives, more than by what is in it. Consumers are looking for products with "clean" labels that provide that free-from information. As part of this shift toward healthier products, small groceries and even larger supermarkets are featuring locally produced meat and poultry products that come from small farms and are generally free-from the things consumers don't want. "Local" has, to a large extent, become a code word meaning "free from."

Embracing the shift toward "free-from" and other healthier options will help insulate the market from the various forces working to limit future meat and poultry consumption. Retail sales grew 3% between 2014 and 2015. Packaged Facts projects continued gains for the market, with a forecast compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the 2015-2020 period of 2.8%.

"The meat and poultry industries seem always to be under attack, whether from angry animal rights groups, burdensome government regulations, or foreign countries upset over trade status. Even nature seems to be going after the meat and poultry industries, adding avian flu epidemics and other health issues to the challenges the industry already faces. In addition, consumers always appear to be deserting meat and poultry to become vegetarians or flexitarians. Still the market continues to thrive and will do so for the foreseeable future," says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.

Meat and Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends and Opportunities looks at the current U.S. market trends for meat and poultry products, including fresh, frozen, and refrigerated products, as well as meat alternatives. It discusses factors affecting the market, especially evolving consumer concerns about food safety and the humane treatment of the animals, as well as the rising interest in vegetarian alternatives, the desire for local sourcing of meat and poultry, and the demand for new products that are natural and/or organic. Consumer nutritional interests are also reviewed as are meat and poultry products in foodservice.

Discover more about the report.