Tyson Foods closure marks change in eating habits for 32% of US stockpiling meat, says GlobalData

Tyson Foods is just one more of many to close its meat processing plants in the US due to the uncontrollable spread of COVID-19 infections in its facilities. 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, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData found that 89% of US consumers stated that they are influenced by how trustworthy or risk-free a product or service feels. The challenges meat processing plants are now facing highlights the safety hazards of current operations, and could reinforce distrust some consumers may have in how their food is handled during this uncertain period.

Carmen Bryan, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, commented: “Meat processors across North America are facing significant losses as their doors close. This, combined with increased consumer demand for traceability and accountability, will likely see the industry turn to automated operations that offer greater efficacy, transparency and employee safety. Long-term ambitions aside, however, there remains the issue of supply issues in the now.”

Almost a third (32%) of US consumers admitted to buying significantly more or stockpiling meat products*2. Meat is a focal part of US culinary culture, and although dietary trends are changing, with flexitarian diets on the rise, the dominance of meat is not set to change any time soon. As a result, high demand and short supply will lead to price hikes in the near future.

Bryan continues: “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.”

A total 31% of US consumers are either buying low-priced prepared meals, or have stopped buying these products altogether because it is beyond their budget*3. With unemployment rates continuing to rise, and the US Government being criticized for poor handling of the pandemic, consumers’ spending power will drop considerably. To account for this, manufacturers will need to look for cheaper alternatives.

Bryan adds: “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-terms consumer base.”

* – GlobalData Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker Consumer Survey – Weeks 4 – US – somewhat/often/always combined

*2 – GlobalData Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker Consumer Survey – Weeks 4 – US – more/significantly more/stockpiling

*3 GlobalData Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker Consumer Survey – Weeks 4 – US

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