Meat Department Trends: What’s New for 2023


Meat Department Trends: What’s New for 2023

In 2023, U.S. Meat Department sales were more than $122 billion, up 3.2% over last year, but it’s not all upside.1 Shifting consumer demand, inflationary pressure, and other factors that affect demand are interfering with many brands’ growth. So, what meat department trends are worth chasing?

It depends on your target market, brand strategy, product offerings, and more. But, in the end, understanding consumers and their motivations is key.

Read on to learn more about the top five meat department trends and what they could mean for your strategy going forward.

Above all else, consumers are dealing with the impact of inflation, as the average increase in CPG prices in July reached +5%.2 But, the Meat Department only saw a 1% increase, leaving room for brands to grow by pursuing other viable trends.2 Luckily, consumers aren’t only motivated by inflation, they have many other needs and demands of note.

With that in mind, here are 5 key trends in Meat to keep an eye on:

1. Increased Demand for Plant-based Meats

15.5 million Americans follow a Vegetarian lifestyle, with around 2 million of those following a purely vegan lifestyle.3 And this is shifting grocery sales in many departments, including meat. But, the increased demand for plant-based meat is also driven by a number of other factors, including growing concerns about animal welfare, the environment, and personal health.

Retailers are responding to this trend by expanding their offerings of plant-based meats. Plant-based meats are now available in a wide variety of forms, from ground beef to chicken nuggets. While it is highly unlikely that this niche will reach the same heights as meat, it does offer ample opportunity for brands to expand their product assortment and meet the needs of this growing market.

2. Rising Popularity of Sustainable Meats

One thing is clear, consumers care about sustainability, and they’re backing it up with their wallets. Consumers are increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it was raised. In fact, responsible sourcing is one of the most important sustainability claims to 45% of consumers.4 This is leading to increased demand for sustainable meats, such as those that are certified organic or free-range.

And, with almost all consumers (95%) trying to take some action to live sustainably, there’s ample room for growth.4 Brands and retailers are responding to this trend by investing in more sustainable solutions and limiting waste. They’re also making use of qualified and stated product attributes by labeling their meat products with information about their sustainability practices. This helps draw in consumers and ensures products aligning with their demands aren’t overlooked.

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3. Growing Interest in Ethnic Meat

The United States is becoming more diverse, and this is reflected in the growing demand for ethnic meats. Consumers are now more likely to purchase meats from different cultures, such as lamb from the Middle East or pork from Asia. For example, sales of chorizo are up 14.4% over last year and up 51.3% in online sales.2

Retailers and brands are responding to this trend by expanding their meat offerings. This may be through the creation of entirely new product lines or adapting existing ones. The key is to understand your target market on a regional or retailer level and intelligently focus your efforts on the areas where the most opportunity is. This means you need to have a strong understanding of the market and rely on accurate data before acting.

4. Convenience is King

Another growing trend among consumers is that they are looking for ways to save time and make meal prep easier. This is leading to increased demand for pre-cut meats and pre-marinated meats. These offerings are also valuable for special events, which can be seen in the strong growth of meat party platters, which are up 41.4% over last year.2

Retailers are responding to this trend by offering a wider variety of pre-prepared meats. These may be private label offerings through the retailer themselves or branded products. By aligning with shifting consumer behaviors and offering more convenient solutions, meat brands have the opportunity to finish 2023 strong.

5. Personalization Is on the Rise

Though often thought of as relating only to CPG goods, consumers are increasingly looking for ways to personalize their food. This is leading to a few changes to the Meat department. First, there has been a renewed growth of in-store butcher shops, where customers can have their meat cut to their specifications.

Retailers are also offering online ordering and delivery services, which allow customers to customize their meat orders. With 86% of US CPG dollar sales represented by “omnichannel shoppers,” enhancing in-store and online shopping is vital.5 Moreover, by leveraging customer data through personalized product pages or marketing can improve customer satisfaction, foster loyalty, and increase sales, ultimately offsetting the impact of inflation.

The meat department is facing major changes, and retailers and brands need to adapt in order to remain relevant and successful. This means understanding how consumers are shifting their focus regarding health and wellness, sustainability, convenience, and inflation are key. By following these trends, they can ensure that their meat products remain relevant and appealing to consumers in the years to come.

In addition to these trends, CPG brands should also be flexible, creative, and responsive to customer feedback. Understanding the shifts across the Grocery and Perishables markets can help you make more informed decisions and be strategic in your planning. By being willing to adapt to change and meet the needs of their customers, CPG brands can stay ahead of the curve and continue to succeed in the meat department.

Strips of bacon

Have “Beef” with Your Growth?

NIQ is here to help! The meat department is going through some big changes, but if you don’t have the right data and insights, you’re likely to fall behind. NIQ offers a range of solutions and expert insights to support brands of all sizes.

Emerging brands can start their journey with a free Byzzer subscription, NIQ’s platform built for emerging brands and their budgets. Free access gets you 3 free reports and a weekly alert to get you started with data. Byzzer provides breakdowns of a wide range of attributes and markets in easy-to-digest reports.

Best of all, we’ll show you how to leverage this information for your action plan. It’s never too early to start acting on data.
Interested in more valuable insights like these?


1 NIQ Total U.S. xAOC Latest 52 Weeks Period Ending July 29, 2023

2 NIQ Total U.S. xAOC 4 Weeks Ending July 29, 2023

3 NIQ Brandbank Report – The plant-based revolution: from niche to the future

4 NIQ Report – The changing story of sustainability

5 NIQ Report – From blind spots to breakthroughs