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Meat and Poultry Trends in the U.S.

Meat and Poultry Trends in the U.S.

Meat consumption in the U.S. has been on the decline for nearly a decade. Several factors account for this change, but two in particular stand out. The first is consumer health concerns, based on a public perception that a high level of red meat consumption is unhealthy. The other main factor is the economy, specifically the recession that began in 2008 and which is still having a negative impact on the economy in 2013. As a result, consumers have been eliminating meat from one or more meals per week and/or reducing the size of portions served.

The health concerns also drove a switch by many consumers from red meat to poultry as a healthier source of animal protein or to switch to plant-based meat substitutes as their protein source. The economic considerations have led consumers to switch to poultry as a less expensive per pound protein source and also seen them switch to less expensive cuts or to retailers’ store brands that offer a better price/value proposition than do branded products as well as to seeking out discounts and sales whenever possible.

But even as consumption per capita has decreased, overall dollar sales have increased thanks to more value-added products entering the marketing mix. These are often convenience products targeted to an overworked population as well as to younger consumers who lack cooking skills. Also helping to keep the dollar sales up are in increase in high-end fresh meat cuts that appeal to that part of the population that has survived the recession or recovered economically more quickly than the population as a whole and want to enjoy upscale products.

As a result, Packaged Facts estimates that retail sales of meat and poultry products topped $85 billion in 2012, up from nearly $73 billion in 2008. Looking ahead, sales are projected to grow to $98.3 billion by 2017. Supporting that growth will be an economic recovery that, while it has been very slow, is underway and likely to pick up steam with each passing year.

Scope and Methodology

Meat and Poultry Trends in the U.S. covers the market for meat and poultry products sold through all types of retail outlets, including supermarkets, discount stores and supercenters, warehouse clubs, and mass merchandisers, as well as convenience stores, drugstores, health and natural food stores, dollar stores, farms and farmers markets. The markets for fresh, refrigerated, frozen, and shelf-stable meats and poultry, in both processed and unprocessed forms are covered, as well as the market for meat substitutes.

Market estimates within this report were based on both public and syndicated data sources. Packaged Facts has analyzed available sales and trend data, together with information pertaining to those products that move through unmonitored outlets, to estimate the total meat and poultry market size.

Primary data sources include:

  • SymphonyIRI sales tracking through U.S. supermarkets and grocery stores, drugstores, and mass merchandisers (including Target and Kmart, but excluding Walmart) with annual sales of $2 million or more.
  • U.S. Census Bureau retail food sales data from the Economic Census surveys, annual retail channel sales, non-employer statistics.
  • U.S. Bureau of Economic analysis annual estimates for consumer spending by food type
  • Major food and beverage retailer annual reports for individual retailer sales
The consumer demographics analysis was developed using data from the Experian Simmons National Consumer Study Winter 2012.  The report also draws on a proprietary Packaged Facts national online consumer survey conducted in February/March of 2013.

Information on new product introductions was derived from examination of the retail milieu and from relevant trade, business, and government sources, including company literature and annual reports.


  • Executive Summary
    • Scope of Report
      • Scope
      • Methodology
    • The Market
      • Meat and Poultry in American Life
      • Regulation
      • Market Size
        • Table Meat and Poultry Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
        • Table Retail Meat Sales by 2008-2012 (in millions $)
        • Table Retail Poultry Sales by 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Market Trends
      • Market Forecast
        • Table Meat and Poultry Retail Sales 2012-2017 (in millions $)
      • The Competitive Environment
    • The Consumer
      • Consumer Have Many Concerns
        • Table Relative Importance of Consumer Food Concerns
      • Consistency in Consumption
  • Market Overview
    • Meat and Poultry in American Life
    • Market Participants
    • The Products
    • Meat and Poultry Product Distribution
    • Labeling
      • Nutrition Labeling
        • Table Aware of the Government's 'My Plate' Eating Recommendations
      • Streamlining Meat and Poultry Labeling
      • Highlighting Healthfulness on Labels
      • COOL Controversy
    • Consumers Look to Labeling
      • Table Ingredient and Labeling Interest When Shopping
    • Meat and Poultry Regulation
      • Focus on Additives
      • Relevant Government Agencies
      • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
      • Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP)
      • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
      • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
      • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
      • Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)
      • Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE)
      • Non-Governmental Consumer Organizations
      • Center for Science in the Public Interest (www.cspinet.org)
      • Consumer Federation of America (www.consumerfed.org)
    • Industry Organizations
      • American Farm Bureau Federation (www.fb.org)
      • American Lamb Board (www.americanlamb.com)
      • American Meat Institute (www.meatami.com)
      • Cattlemen's Beef Board (www.beefboard.org)
      • Food Marketing Institute (www.fmi.org)
      • Grocery Manufacturers Association (www.gmaonline.org)
      • National Chicken Council (www.nationalchickencouncil.org)
      • National Grocer's Association (www.nationalgrocers.org)
      • National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (www.hot-dog.org)
      • National Pork Board (www.pork.org)
      • National Pork Producers Council (www.nppc.org)
      • National Turkey Federation (www.eatturkey.com)
      • North American Meat Processors Association (www.namp.com)
      • Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (www.r-calfusa.com)
      • Shelf-Stable Food Processors Association (www.meatami.com/ht/d/sp/i/8423/pid/8423)
      • U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (www.uspoultry.org)
  • The Market
    • Market Size
      • Meat and Poultry Sales Topped $85 Billion in 2012
        • Table Meat and Poultry Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Unit and Volume Sales Down
        • Table SymphonyIRI-Tracked Unit Sales of Packaged Meat and Poultry: By Category, 2012 vs. 2008 (in millions)
        • Table SymphonyIRI-Tracked Volume Sales of Meat and Poultry: By Category, 2012 vs. 2008 (in millions)
    • Market Trends
      • Recession Dominates Market Development
      • Survey Backs Store Brands Switch Trend
        • Table Opinions on Store Brands
      • Survey Backs Discount Shopping Trend
        • Table Purchase a Lot of Groceries On Sale or Promotion
      • Health Concerns Rise in Importance
      • Locavore Movement Contributes to Changing Market
      • Demographic Shifts Impacting the Market
    • Market Share by Category
      • Major Divisions Within Meat and Poultry Market
      • Fresh vs. Frozen/Refrigerates/Shelf-Stable Meat
        • Table Retail Meat Sales by 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Fresh vs. Frozen/Refrigerates/Shelf-Stable Poultry
        • Table Retail Poultry Sales by 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Category Sales Within the Frozen/Refrigerated/Shelf-Stable Meat and Poultry Markets
    • Market Size and Growth By Category and Segment
      • Lunchmeat Sales are Largest Category
        • Table Lunchmeat Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Breakfast Meats Sales Top 5 Percent Growth Rate
        • Table Breakfast Meats Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Frozen/Refrigerated Turkey Sales Pace Overall Frozen/Refrigerated Poultry Sales
        • Table Frozen/Refrigerated Poultry Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Dinner Sausage Category Has Solid Sales Growth
        • Table Refrigerated Dinner Sausage Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Chicken is Dominant Sector in Processed Refrigerated Poultry
        • Table Processed Frozen/Refrigerated Poultry Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Refrigerated Frankfurters Grow Nine Percent
        • Table Refrigerated Frankfurters Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Refrigerated Meat Category Has Highest CAGR
        • Table Refrigerated Meat Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Frozen Meats Sales Grow 17 percent
        • Table Frozen Meat Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Shelf-Stable Meat Trails Refrigerated and Frozen Categories
        • Table Shelf-Stable Meat/Refrigerated Ham Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
      • Meat and Poultry Substitutes Less Than Two Percent of Market
        • Table Meat and Poultry Substitutes Retail Sales 2008-2012 (in millions $)
    • Market Outlook
      • Slow Economic Recovery Restrains Big Gains
      • Potential Impact from Slowdown in Meat Inspections
      • Impact of Horsegate
      • Food Safety Concerns of Consumers
        • Table Ingredient and Labeling Interest When Shopping
      • Ongoing Health Concerns
        • Table Consumer Preference for Meatless/Vegetarian Meals 2012
      • Impact of Droughts
    • Opportunities for Growth
      • Covering the Meat Substitute Market
      • Diversifying Meat and Poultry Sources
      • Leveraging Locavore
      • Focus on Value-Added
        • Table Preference for Nutritionally Enhanced Food and Beverage Products
        • Table Grocery Product Manufacturers Should Do More to Help Consumers Eat More Healthily
      • Appealing to Ethnic Markets
      • Using Social Media
      • Outside the Box
    • Market Forecast
      • Market to Top $98 Billion by 2017
      • Meat Substitutes Will Have Strongest Growth
        • Table Meat and Poultry Retail Sales 2012-2017 (in millions $)
      • Fresh Meat Will Pace Meat Category Growth
        • Table Retail Meat Sales by 2012-2017 (in millions $)
      • Frozen, Refrigerated and Shelf-stable Poultry Will Pace Category Growth
        • Table Retail Poultry Sales by 2012-2017 (in millions $)
      • Market Forecast By Category and Segment
      • Lunchmeats Will Remain Largest Meat Category
      • Breakfast Meats Will Grow by Three Percent
      • Dinner Sausages Sales Slow
      • Frankfurters Stable Through Forecast Period
      • Refrigerated Meats Lose to Alternatives
      • Frozen Meats May Gain as Convenience Foods
      • Shelf-Stable Growth Slows as Economy Improves
      • Frozen/Refrigerated Poultry Should Continue Solid Growth
      • Processed Frozen/Refrigerated Poultry Another Convenience Winner
        • Table Meat and Poultry Retail Sales By Category 2012-2017 (in millions $)
  • Competitive Trends
    • The Competitive Environment
      • Global Marketers Lead the Competition
      • Estimate of Overall Meat and Poultry Market Shares
      • Estimate of Refrigerated/Frozen/Shelf-Stable Market Shares
      • Leaders in Meat Category
      • Leaders in Poultry Category
      • Smaller Companies Challenged in Niche Markets
      • Leading Companies Work Within and Across Categories
        • Table Category Participation Among Top Marketers in Meat and Poultry
      • Acquisitions: The Big Get Bigger
      • Expanding Product Lines
      • Targeting Demographic Groups
      • Looking for Alternative Protein Sources
      • Pressure to Lower Costs
      • Value of Corporate Responsibility
      • Pink Slime: Devastating Impact of Health Concerns
    • Selected Company Profiles
      • Applegate Farms
      • AdvancePierre Foods (Barber Foods)
      • Beef Products, Inc.
      • Butterball LLC
      • Cargill
      • Cargill Grows
      • Plant Closing an Industry Game Changer
      • ConAgra Foods
      • Fieldale Farms
      • Foster Farms
      • GNP (Gold'N Plump)
      • Heinz
      • Hillshire Brands
      • Hormel Foods Corporation
      • Jennie-O Turkey Store
      • Skippy Acquisition
      • JBS
      • Swift & Company
      • Pilgrim's
      • JBS Pork
      • Recent Acquisitions
      • Johnsonville Sausage
      • Kayem/al fresco
      • Kellogg
      • Kraft Foods
      • Oscar Meyer
      • Lunchables
      • Boca Foods Company
      • Laura's Lean Beef
      • National Beef
      • OK Foods
      • Perdue
      • Rocky Mountain Natural Meats
      • Smithfield
      • Tyson
  • Product Trends and Opportunities
    • Convenient, Health-Oriented Products, Adventurous Flavors Among Key Trends
      • Convenience
      • Making Fresh Meat and Poultry Convenient
      • Better-For-You
        • Table Trying to Eat More Healthfully
        • Table Selected New Better for You Meat/Poultry Products
        • Table Willing to Pay More for Better-For-You Food Products
      • Foodies
      • More Variety, Trendy Flavors
    • Special Dietary Needs
      • Gluten-Free and Hidden Allergens
      • Kosher and Halal
    • Packaging
    • Value
      • Private Label Value Solution
      • Bacon Nation
    • Beyond Bacon: Opportunities in Other Meat Products
      • Table Variety Meats Popular in Non-U.S. Cuisines
    • New Product Positioning
      • Table Selected New Meat and Poultry Products: Fresh/Refrigerated, 2011-2012
      • Table Selected New Meat and Poultry Products: Frozen, 2011-2012
  • Retail/Foodservice Trends
    • Challenging Times for Meat and Poultry in Retail and Foodservice
    • Challenge Being Met
    • Dealing with Declining Consumption
      • Price Tops Health Concerns as Reason for Slower Purchases
      • Chicken Declines Despite Being Viewed as Healthier Than Beef
      • Traditional Circulars Tailored to Local Markets & Consumers
      • Consumers Using Circulars
        • Table Consumers using Circulars for Most Recent Grocery Shopping Trip
      • Circulars Support Holiday Specific Sales
      • Cooking Suggestions Support Sales
      • Social Media Not Overlooked
      • Traditional Promotional Activities Also Thrive
      • Aiming for a New Generation of Consumers
      • Grilling Promotions a Summer Tradition
      • Walmart Offers New Steaks with Grilling Challenge Promotion
      • Promoting Low Prices
    • Improving Service in the Meat Department
      • BI-LO Ties Service to Store Brand and More
    • Supply Chain/Sourcing
      • Local Sourcing of Meat and Poultry
      • Women and Older Consumers Top Targets
      • Government Support for Locavore Movement
      • Stressing Family Ties in Local Sourcing
    • Demand for Healthier Meat Sparks Positive Actions
      • Table Food Stores Should Do More to Help Customers Eat Healthily
      • Rejection of Lean Finely Textured Beef
      • Antibiotic-Free Lines Introduced
      • Animal Welfare Concerns are Addressed
      • Ending Use of Gestation Crates
      • Whole Foods Provides Transparency for Supplier Meat-Raising Practices
      • Harris Teeter Also Follows GAP Guidelines
    • Products for Human Health
    • Role of Private Label
    • Labeling and Packaging
      • Nutrition Labeling Guidelines Continue to Evolve
      • Labeling in Retail Locations
      • Eco-Friendly Packaging
      • New Pork Packaging
    • Foodservice Trends
      • Locavore Tops Trend List
      • Healthier Meat and Poultry
      • New and Different
      • Upscale Burgers Everywhere
      • Tasting Menus Feature High End Meat Samples
      • Increased and Varied Chicken Offerings
      • Challenge from "Meatless" Meats
    • Opportunities in Schools
      • Chicken Fits Healthier School Menus
    • Hospitals Look to Go Leaner and Meatless
      • Foodservice in Retail
  • Consumer Trends
    • Note on Experian Marketing Services Consumer Data
    • Consumer Have Many Concerns
      • Eating Healthier Top Concern
      • Concern Over Food Safety
      • Cost is Also Critical
        • Table Relative Importance of Consumer Food Concerns, 2012
      • Consumer Concerns are Consistent
        • Table Preference for Healthier Eating, 2008 and 2012
        • Table Seeking Freshest Ingredients, 2008 and 2012
        • Table Importance of Nutritional Value in Selecting Foods, 2008 and 2012
        • Table Always Look for Brand Name, 2008 and 2012
        • Table Practicing Vegetarianism, 2008 and 2012
    • Cold Cuts Most Often Consumed Meat or Poultry Product
    • Most Consumer Segments Are in Normal Range
    • Consumer Product Preferences - Beef
      • Beef - Steak
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Beef - Steak, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Other Ground Beef
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Other Ground Beef, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Beef -Hamburger (Fresh or Frozen Patties)
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Beef -Hamburger (Fresh or Frozen Patties), Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Beef - Roast
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Beef - Roast, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Beef - Other
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Beef - Other, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
    • Consumer Product Preferences - Pork
      • Pork Chops
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Pork Chops, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Pork Roast
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Pork Roast, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Other Pork
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Other Pork, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
    • Consumer Product Preferences - Other Meat
      • Lamb
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Lamb, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Veal
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Veal, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
    • Consumer Product Preferences - Chicken
      • Fresh Chicken Breast
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Fresh Chicken Breast, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Fresh Whole Chicken
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Fresh Whole Chicken, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Fresh Chicken Parts W/Bones-Not Breasts
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Fresh Chicken Parts w/Bones-Not Breasts, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Frozen Boneless Chicken
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Frozen Boneless Chicken, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Fresh Chicken Parts Boneless-Not Breasts
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Fresh Chicken Parts Boneless-Not Breasts, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Frozen Chicken - With Bones
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Frozen Chicken with Bones, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Cornish Game Hen (Fresh or Frozen)
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Cornish Game Hen, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
    • Consumer Product Preferences - Turkey
      • Fresh Whole Turkey
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Fresh Whole Turkey, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Fresh Breast of Turkey
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Fresh Breast of Turkey, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Frozen Turkey - Not Stuffed
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Frozen Turkey - Not Stuffed, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Frozen Breast of Turkey
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Frozen Breast of Turkey, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Fresh Turkey Parts
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Fresh Turkey Parts, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
    • Consumer Product Preferences - Prepared Meat Products
      • Cold Cuts
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Cold Cuts, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Frankfurters/Hot Dogs
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Frankfurters/Hot Dogs, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Bacon
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Bacon, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Sausages
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Sausages, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Canned Meat
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Canned Meat, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
      • Bratwursts
        • Table User Demographics Focus: Bratwursts, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
    • Consumer Product Preferences - Meat Alternatives
      • Table User Demographics Focus: Meat Alternatives, Summer 2012 (U.S. Household Indices)
  • Addresses of Selected Marketers

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