Potential meat shortages in the US caused by the closure of processing plants due to Covid-19 could usher in marked changes in the country’s eating habits, according to UK-headquartered data and analytics firm GlobalData.
“While mass closures are expected to lead to price increases in raw meats, it also has the potential to reshape the industry, as well as consumers’ eating habits,” the London-based company said.
GlobalData’s research found 89% of US consumers said they are influenced by how trustworthy or risk-free a product or service feels. It said the challenges meat processing plants now face highlights the safety hazards of current operations and could reinforce distrust some consumers may have in how their food is handled.
Almost a third (32%) of US consumers admitted to buying significantly more or stockpiling meat products. As a result, high demand and short supply will lead to price hikes in the near future, GlobalData suggested.
Carmen Bryan, consumer analyst at GlobalData, just-food’s parent company, said: “The likely rise in prices is not just limited to chicken thighs and bacon bits – this applies to the many prepared meals and meal kits that have been popularised over the past few months, as well as takeaways and foodservice operators. Price hikes will spell bad news for an increasingly value-orientated economy.”
The research found a total 31% of US consumers are either buying low-priced prepared meals, or have stopped buying these products altogether because they are beyond their budget.
With unemployment rates continuing to rise, consumer spending power will drop considerably. To account for this, manufacturers will need to look for cheaper alternatives, GlobalData said.
Bryan added: “Increased value consciousness among the public could lead to a rise in offal cuts of meat. Movements such as 2020’s Organuary, which was promoted by health and medical experts, highlight the nutritious and eco benefits of these cuts. Perhaps more importantly though is that they are considered a by-product, and therefore cheaper than standard cuts. Prepared meal manufacturers should look to incorporating these into their products in order to lower the price point, offering potential for a long-term consumer base.”