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Meat Shopper Insight - A year of Covid shopping has shoppers looking for variation and inspiration

Danny Bowles, International Insights & Planning Specialist

In March and April of last year we were living through a scary and difficult period, the first weeks and months of the large-scale impact of Covid-19. From a shopper insight point of view, we remember the supermarket shelves running low as shoppers filled trollies. In the beef category, there was an increase in the purchase of beef. Shoppers sought comfort, to treat themselves a bit more and replace their restaurant experience (Bord Bia’s Covid Indicators, 2020). Beef played an important role in delivering this comfort, especially steak.

Shopper Insight Source.PNG

Looking at the same period (March and April) of this year, despite that peak in purchase in 2020, beef consideration and purchase is pretty stable, except in Germany where we see a decline. However, there is evidence that shoppers are looking for more variation in their repertoire, and more inspiration. After 15 long months of lots of scratch cooking we may be seeing some cooking fatigue. In the UK, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium, we see an increase of shoppers feeling like a change from beef. Relatedly, we see Dutch and UK shoppers considering purchasing more shellfish and turkey, as an alternative. In Italy and Ireland, more shoppers are looking for something easier to cook than beef, acting as a barrier to purchase. Beef shoppers need more inspiration from the beef category to maintain purchase levels. This can come from showing examples of what the final meal could look like, giving tips to shoppers to “level up” their beef game and highlighting the Irish origin and traceability to generate more excitement in the category.

Renewed focus on welfare and the environment

There is growing evidence that Ireland’s grass-fed messaging can help offer the variation shoppers may be looking for from their beef, and convince shoppers to pay that bit more for their beef. For the last year, concern over the environment seems to have declined in influence on shopper trends and attitudes. However, we are seeing the beginnings of a post-Covid bounce in concern for sustainability, as it moves up the list of priorities. While current consumption trends have been stable for the last year, we are seeing more shoppers claim they intend to cut back on beef consumption in the next 3 years, driven primarily by concerns over animal welfare and beef production’s impact on the environment. At the same time, beef being grass-fed is more likely to drive future purchase of beef compared to this time last year, with 3 in 10 beef shoppers in Sweden, UK and Germany saying they would be more likely to buy beef if it’s grass-fed, something Irish beef can claim and verify at scale. Messaging like this can highlight the value of purchasing better quality beef and keep more shoppers putting beef in their meal plans and in their trollies.

For More Information

For more information, you can view the headline European report here. There is plenty more market- and retailer-level insights available also. Bord Bia would be delighted to work with these findings to support your category understanding and management. 

Every month, Bord Bia interviews 375 grocery shoppers in key European markets: Ireland, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Sweden; in order to understand key dynamics around buying proteins. We have been collecting these insights since Autumn 2019, allowing us to reliably compare trends in consumption, purchase patterns and attitudes to the same period in the year previous.