Feeding the flames

The summer grilling season presents opportunities for retailers to increase fresh meat sales.  Since the cavemen figured out how to create fire, people have been enamored with cooking over an open flame. While woolly mammoth or saber-tooth tiger are no longer options, beef, chicken, pork and seafood can be found on backyard chef’s menus regularly. According to research conducted by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), nearly two out of three consumers (63%) choose beef as the meat they grill most often, followed by chicken (29%), pork (7%) and seafood (1%). Top selling beef cuts include ribeye (bone in and boneless) strip steak, top sirloin, T-bone and petite sirloin. Laura Landoll, manager of integrated communications for the Centennial, Colo.-based NCBA, says retailers that promote beef during the grilling season are more likely to generate store traffic. She adds that not only should stores feature and promote beef during the summer months to drive store traffic, retailers’ meat departments can also be a go-to source for shoppers. Despite the popularity of beef, Landoll says there is still much room for growth. “Most people have their one or two favorite cuts that they like to grill,” says Landoll. “We want them to understand all of the cuts and how to cook them; for example, which should be marinated before grilling. We are still seeing that learning curve.” The NCBA provides retailers with resources designed to help consumers better understand the options available to them. This includes a new cut chart that shows the best beef cuts for grilling. “We have icons on the chart on how to best prepare those cuts. It was designed for retailers to display in back of house but can also be used at point-of-sale as a quick visual for consumers,” says Landoll. The National Pork Board continues to reinforce its revamped nomenclature with its “Grill it like a Steak” promotion. Point-of-sale elements include a series of six meat case signs and five static clings, each featuring a different grill-friendly pork cut and an on-pack label showing mixed pork cuts. 005_grilled“We saw great success during last year’s ‘Grill it like a Steak’ promotion, and are bringing it back by popular demand,” says Patrick Fleming, director of retail marketing for the Des Moines, Iowa-based National Pork Board. “With the change in nomenclature for fresh pork cuts, our consumers are able to better understand the different cooking methods and eating experiences for the different pork cuts in the case.” Richard Parker, director of pork marketing for Greeley, Colo.-based JBS USA, says when it comes to grilling, the St. Louis rib has become increasing popular over the years: “It looks like a back rib but it is not as expensive so it becomes a great price value for people that want that wonderful rib experience.” He adds that tenderloins and fillets are also popular for grilling. Though pork trails both beef and chicken in grilling popularity, according to consumer research conducted by the Pork Board, those who do grill pork—referred to as Pork Champions by the Pork Board—do so on a pretty regular basis. “We’re looking forward to a very successful grilling season this year,” says Fleming. “There is still plenty of pork supply to be sold, and consumer demand remains high. Sixty-eight percent of Pork Champions are grilling pork at least few times a month, including 9% who grill several times a week. Additionally, 17% of Pork Champions plan to grill more pork this year. Taste is king when it comes to grilled pork, so retailers can capitalize by focusing their messages at the meat case and in ads to focus on the great taste of pork on the grill.”


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