Cost of living crisis brings consumer change but also opportunity

Cost of living crisis brings consumer change but also opportunity

With Christmas behind us but credit card bills ahead, consumers will really be feeling the pinch. It may be the case that some are buying a bit less meat, but they’re buying less of everything. And as AHDB assert, this isn’t an active choice, but rather a response to difficult financial circumstances. Consumers are looking for ways to still eat the food they love, but affordably, and butchers are amongst the best placed to help them do this. So, let’s not be doom and gloom but instead focus on the opportunities that changing consumer attitudes present for butchers.

Affordability on tap

Almost 40% of consumers are changing the type of products they buy and over 20% are trading down. Yet in times of crisis we become more creatures of habit than ever. Families still want to make the same meals but need advice as to how to do this and save money. This need plays to butchers’ strengths. Butchers can show customers how to make money-saving swaps that enables them to still make their favourite family meals. From choosing pork over beef for the Sunday roast to a higher fat content beef mince or even pork mince for their favourite Bolognese. Butchers’ counters can also flex at short notice fulfil demand for everything from mid-week value meals to affordable weekend indulgences.

Convenience is King

Consumers are increasingly looking for practicality and convenience. The convenience factor is the likely reason behind why doorstep milk deliveries which grew during the pandemic remain buoyant today. How can butchers provide this convenience for their customers? Offering a subscription service could be one way – enabling customers to stick to a budget and receive a regular delivery. The subscription model is increasingly popular in the food industry – with thousands of families signing up to meal box schemes such as Gousto and Hello Fresh.

Ditch price promotions in favour of loyalty

The buzzword today is ‘everyday value’, and this is good news, since price-led promotions can quickly become a race to the bottom. Seventy percent of British consumers believe they save money through loyalty schemes. As covered in the previous issue of Craft Butcher, loyalty schemes can be quick to set up and are a cost-effective way of maintaining both custom and goodwill.

Less nights out means more meals in

In response to tight finances inevitably people are eating out less and are also buying fewer takeaways. Yet a special meal is still  a much-needed treat. Multiple retailers and brands have been quick to tap into the ‘occasion at home’ opportunity and butchers are well placed to do so too. Why not create your own ‘Big Night In’, ‘Date night’  or ‘Fakeaway’ products, emulating popular restaurant or takeaway meals?

Love those lunches

Working from home is more a continuation of Covid behaviour, but one in five consumers expect to carry on working from home at least 50% of the week. This accounted for over 1.1 billion extra meal occasions from June-October alone last year. The cost-of-living crisis has also increased the number of packed lunches being taken into work by office workers and children taking lunch into school. With everyone trying to save on their energy bills cold lunches are the order of the day. This explains why ‘pork sliced cooked meats’ is one of the few meat categories to still be in healthy volume growth. So, now’s a good time for butchers to be maximising their displays of cold meats and meat snack ranges.

Easy scratch and batch cooking

The scratch cooking movement spawned by the pandemic is expected to make a resurgence, but with a difference. Consumers are likely to be cooking in quantity, with over a third expecting to be batch-cooking more. But today they are less likely to be trying out complex new recipes and more likely to be making familiar meals. Indian, Italian and roasts are some of the most popular meals cooked from scratch.

Opportunities exist for butchers to promote easy and filling meals, suitable for batch cooking. Last but not least, given that 50% of consumers are also looking to reduce food waste, instructions on storing and freezing these dishes would also be welcomed.

Source: AHDB: Impact of the cost-of-living crisis on meat and dairy demand. 13 October 2022

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