Red meat has been scientifically demonstrated to be full of the nutrients that athletes need, but many athletic people–especially women–minimize or eliminate it from their diets. The main reason is the false perception that red meat is somehow bad for their health. Retailers must educate them and teach consumers the facts that nutritionists, medical doctors and researchers have revealed on the benefits of red meat consumption for athletes. Below are some educational initiatives that the meat and poultry department can institute that can help drive higher red meat sales among the many athletic men and women who live in the vicinity of the store or actually shop in the grocery store where the meat department is located.
First, retailers can set up in-store educational posters that explain how red meat consumption is actually beneficial for athletes and other athletic people. The posters can promote the following facts:
- Red meat is a good source of all nine essential amino acids that athletes require to build up and repair muscle tissue. Explain the extra protein needs of athletes and how a single cut of red meat can help satisfy that need.
- Red meat is a good source of iron, which is needed to make hemoglobin for red blood cells to transport oxygen to the athletes’ muscles. Research reveals that athletes need 30% more iron than non-athletes, and an estimated 30% of male athletes and 80% of female athletes may be iron deficient. In addition, convey that red meat has vitamin B-12 that helps avoid anemia.
- Red meat can be low-fat, and meat in general has been getting leaner due to selective breeding. For example, a portion of lamb can be trimmed at home so that it contains only 5% fat. In addition, about 50% of that fat is a healthy kind.
- Red meat is a great source of various B vitamins, including niacin, B1 and B2, that are required in many metabolic processes needed for energy production and endurance that is vital to an athlete.
- Red meat is a great source of minerals, including iron, zinc and phosphorus needed for metabolism.
- Red meat has the sought after omega-3 polyunsaturated fats that reduce the risk of some chronic diseases.
- Red meat has biogenic substances that are often added to sports supplements for increased performance.
Second, the meat department manager can set up a sports nutrition event at the store and promote it in-store and via social media. This event should target athletes and athletic people. Have a sports nutritionist on-site to discuss the topic, “Meat: Good or Bad for Athletes?” The event should have the following objectives:
- Engage the visitors with interesting education that nullifies the false perceptions they may have about red meat.
- Engage some athletic visitors who do not currently eat red meat—or only minimal amounts—to join a sports challenge whereby they will measure any increased performance after having added red meat to their diets. The participants will get a password to the sports challenge website where they will start by logging in and ranking their current performance before the red meat is added to their diet. They then do a three-month trial after having added the red meat. Participants are asked to rank their performance online on a weekly basis. The expected improved performance results are heavily promoted in-store and via social media. Newspaper and radio interviews should be set up to promote the results of the challenge which will lead to enhanced exposure of the nutritional benefits of red meat. The participant will probably also share their results with others in the gym they go to. The net result of all the above exposure will be increased sales of red meat products to athletic persons.
Education: the key to drive increased sales of red meat to the prospective athletic consumer.
Ronnie P. Cons is CEO of C&C Packing Inc., a leading Canadian meat and poultry distributor. He can be contacted at Rcons@ccpacking.com.