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Help consumers realize the health benefits of meat

Retailers can highlight nutrient content, offer recipes for customers who follow current dietary trends.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Summer grilling season means big opportunities for meat department sales, and it’s also a perfect time to talk about the healthy attributes of meat products.

Consumers more than ever understand the benefits of diets high in protein, such as protein’s ability to keep hunger at bay and help to build muscle.

“People continue to enjoy power-packed protein in their diets, usually in the form of meat,” said Rick Stein, VP of fresh at the Food Marketing Institute, in a recent blog post about FMI’s 2019 Power of Meat report. “Shoppers are taking the power on themselves to shop for and buy meat products that fit their schedule, eating plan, mood and taste.”

One of the challenges retailers face is that consumers may not understand fresh, lean meat can be a much better source of protein than some of the other foods they are choosing for protein content.

A two-ounce serving of lean corned beef, for example, contains 12 grams of protein and comes in at only 70 calories, according to the North American Meat Institute. In order to get that much protein from almond butter, a person would have to eat four tablespoons, which packs 390 calories.

The opportunity for retailers is to communicate the efficiency and efficacy of choosing fresh, lean meat as a source of protein. This can be done using dietitian-led store tours, for example, or by highlighting the nutritional content of meat in promotional materials.

Meat is also a good source of several other nutrients, including zinc, iron, vitamin B-12 and more. It offers benefits for the brain, muscles, digestive system, immune system, and contributes to bone health. It can also be instrumental in managing diabetes, wound healing and preventing anemia, according to NAMI.

Recipe versatility

Meat is a versatile ingredient that can be featured as a center of the plate item or as an add-on to veggie- or grain-based dishes such as salads and bowls.

Retailers can showcase the comprehensive nutritional content of such dishes with recipe ideas that tap into consumer interest in new tastes and flavors. Consider merchandising lean meats with pre-cut vegetables and a barbecue sauce for an easy-to-make kebab, for example.

Meats are also important elements of many of the most popular consumer diets, including:

  • The Whole30 diet, a strict, 30-day regimen that emphasizes unprocessed meats and the consumption of natural fats, while avoiding grains, sugars and processed foods
  • The ketogenic diet, which focuses on cutting carbohydrate intake, instead deriving energy from fats and protein
  • The paleo diet, which shuns processed foods in favor of fresh meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils.

Grocers can help consumers who are following these diets with recipe suggestions, both online and in-store, and with recipe demos that showcase meats and other ingredients.

“Leveraging food for better health is a trend that presents an enormous, yet underrepresented, opportunity for meat/poultry,” FMI noted in its 2018 Power of Meat report. “Three-quarters of shoppers put effort into making nutritious and healthful meat/poultry choices. These are valuable shoppers to retailers, with above-average spending on premium, high-margin items and above-average total store spending and trips.”

This post is sponsored by Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.

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