Americans are buying more beef, pork, poultry and lamb than ever as increased time at home during the pandemic sent meat grocery sales soaring by 20% from 2019 to 2020, according to IRI data released during the virtual Annual Meat Conference today.
The newly released 16th annual Power of Meat report from FMI and the Meat Institute Foundation finds that three out of every four Americans agree meat belongs in healthy, balanced diets (up by nearly 20% since 2020), and 94% say they buy meat because it provides high-quality protein.
“Americans feel better than ever about choosing meat as part of healthy, balanced diets,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts in a statement. “With COVID-19 deepening demand for convenient, affordable food that tastes good and matches Americans’ values, meat fits the bill.”
Nearly all American households (98.4%) purchased meat in 2020 (IRI), and 43% of Americans now buy more meat than before the pandemic—primarily because they are preparing more meals at home.
IRI further finds the proportion of meals prepared at home peaked at 89% in April 2020 and remained at 84% in December, considerably above pre-pandemic levels and particularly impacting millennials who were previously most likely to eat out.
The number of meat shoppers who purchased groceries online grew 40% in 2020, and the majority of online purchasers (59%) expect to continue purchasing about the same amount online in 2021, suggesting food shopping habits may have changed permanently.
Americans are also embracing new cooking methods (ownership of air fryers increased 24%) and turning to digital sources for recipe inspiration (YouTube use is up 50%) and promotions (consulting digital circulars for promotions increased 33%).
“Shoppers are cooking more at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their confidence in cooking and preparing meat has increased,” said Rick Stein, VP of fresh foods for FMI—The Food Industry Association. “Further analysis also shows convenient meal solutions are key and that food retailers have opportunities to provide more choices, along with more information and education on consumer priorities like nutrition and meal preparation—building up what we call consumers’ Meat IQ.”
The Power of Meat study was conducted by 210 Analytics on behalf of FMI and the Meat Institute’s Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education and released during the American Meat Conference.