New research reveals opportunities to improve red meat packaging

Friday, 23 February 2024

New research has revealed that when it comes to encouraging consumers to buy red meat, the most important aspects of product packaging include "foodie imagery", health and provenance messaging and reassurance about the environment and farming methods.

In collaboration with Basis Research, we have explored how producers and retailers can optimise red meat packaging and labelling to encourage shoppers to buy red meat and improve long-term perceptions of the industry.

While spend has increased over the last few years, volumes of red meat purchased have declined year-on-year since peaking in 2020.

We previously analysed data, which showed that there is a need to re-engage shoppers with the red meat category, both in store and online 

Our latest research has revealed that there are clear consumer preferences of what should be included on pack, regardless of the type of meat or cut. These can be split into three main categories: 

  • Inspire with "foodie imagery" 
  • Inform with health and provenance messaging  
  • Reassure about the environment and farming methods  

On-pack inspiration has the biggest impact on whether shoppers decide to buy a product, with consumers being drawn to images of tasty, well-presented dishes; having strong "foodie imagery" on pack is, therefore, essential.

In the case of pork medallions, pork loins and beef steaks, more than half of shoppers taking part in the research selected the labels with "foodie imagery" as their favourite (64%, 57% and 56%, respectively).

We also found that having information on cooking times gives consumers more confidence – particularly for less familiar cuts, such as lamb. 

One consumer involved in the research said:

“I find the photograph appealing, and if I were feeling indecisive about what to cook, the photo would inspire further food shopping.”  

Shoppers also like to see information about health and provenance on packaging, particularly messaging around fat, vitamin and mineral content. They also like to know if meat is of British origin, the farming methods used to produce it – such as grass-fed or free-range – and whether it meets any assurance scheme standards.

Seventy-three per cent of those involved in the study and who were interested in health said that "lean and low in fat" messaging would encourage them to buy the product. In contrast, only 35% said that "regeneratively farmed" would push them to buy.  

Grace Randall, Retail and Consumer Insight Manager at AHDB, said:

It’s so important that retailers and producers understand the needs, desires and drives of their consumers. 

It’s clear from this research that shoppers want to feel confident in the quality of their meat, which comes from taste, health benefits and production methods. By helping them to feel informed and inspired, we can help drive their red meat purchases. 

AHDB wants to showcase the optimised label concepts created in this study, and we encourage producers and retailers within the industry to initiate change and to reach out to AHDB for further support.” 

Read the full report about optimising red meat labelling

Image of staff member Grace Randall

Grace Randall

Lead Retail Insight Manager

See full bio