A fresh opportunity to build meat sales

June 12, 2013

Stores can leverage buzz about new meat names, with classes, sampling and signage.

Grillers and home kitchen chefs will have a new lexicon in meat as early as this summer. 

Which means supermarkets will bear the onus of making new names for more than 350 cuts of beef and pork understandable to shoppers.  The Lempert Report feels this could be a huge burden for meat departments, where meat cutters typically work in the back and converse little with customers, and where signage space is limited in self-service display cases.

We forecast confusion—unless the National Pork Board and Beef Checkoff Program issue excellent marketing materials that help people easily make sense of the new names, and correlate them to what they’re accustomed to buying.  We also urge these entities to help stores train meat staffs—not only so they could help shoppers to transition, but also to manage store-level buying, inventories, meat handling and advertising without a costly slip.

The idea behind the name changes is to make shopping easier—since two years of consumer research showed NPB and BCP that package labels stunted buying, marketing executives for both told Reuters recently.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cleared NPB and BCP to “update the Uniform Retail Meat Identification Standards,” which are voluntary, but which most stores use.

In our view, the names may not help—unless stores do more than comply on package labels.  Retailers should go beyond mere names to help shoppers determine which meat cuts to buy for specific eating occasions.  With prices rising, people don’t want to risk waste or household members not liking a meal.  The more stores can help people understand what to buy and how to prepare different meat cuts, the better their chance of building demand and lifting consumption. 

To us, it’s less important if a ‘beef under blade boneless steak’ becomes a ‘Denver steak.’  It matters more if butchers would run in-store classes about various meats, explain their differences, sample and sign.  The opportunity is coming soon. Stores should capitalize on it.