The 2007 National Meat Case Study looked at more than 123,000 packages in 121 stores in 48 different markets, comparing its findings with those of a similar study in 2004. The aim of the study was to examine the U.S. fresh meat case to identify trends and changes as well as identify areas of opportunity. The two most important questions of the study were:

  • What are retailers around the country merchandising in their fresh meat cases?
  • How has this changed in the last couple years?
The latest study found that fresh meat had actually increased its share of the self-serve meat case by 3% from 2004, while beef's share remained the same -- accounting for 27% of total meat case space.

Not surprisingly, the number of case-ready packages continued to grow, with 67% of the ground beef packages now case-ready, and 27% of the whole-muscle cuts. For the first time, more than 1 in 4 of the heat-and-serve packages in the case are beef.

Meanwhile, the number of nutritional labels increased significantly, as did the number of packages containing a natural claim of some sort -- from 2% to 4% of the packages evaluated. Value-added products (those with a flavor or ingredient added) nearly doubled, moving from 4% to 7%.

The branded revolution was also evident. While supplier-branded muscle cuts actually decreased, store-branded products saw a big jump, increasing 107% for whole-muscle cuts and 200% for ground beef.

National Meat Case Study 2007 was funded by the beef checkoff, the National Pork Board and Cryovac Food Packing Division of Sealed Air Corporation. For more detail, visit: www.beefretail.org/reseNationalMeatCaseStudy.aspx.