Meat is everywhere in our lives. From juicy burgers on a summer barbecue, a pepperoni pizza on movie night, dried sausages at your after-work drink, to a comforting stew on a cold winter night. But in the last couple of years, a series of events and trends has changed people’s relationship with food – and with meat in particular. Staying oblivious to this new reality and tightly holding on to what you know is a recipe for failure. What’s the alternative for meat manufacturers?  

The brave new world of food 

This won’t come as much of a shock, but the world has drastically changed in a couple of years. To illustrate, these events and trends have had – and continue to have – a big impact on consumer behaviour and people’s relationship with food.  

Raised environmental awareness
From taking up a large percentage of farmland, to being responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, the meat industry has an impact on our planet. Raised environmental awareness has led people to lower their meat intake. 

Healthier lifestyles
The global pandemic put people’s health at centre stage. Ever since, demand for additive-free meat, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and other food related to healthy diets has soared. Meanwhile, red meat and ultra-processed foods have lost appeal.  

Cost-of-living crisis
Food is now the frontline of the cost-of-living crisis. One manifestation is that cost-cutters turn ‘in-in’ into the new ‘out-out’, meaning people look for ways to recreate their favourite menus at home for a fraction of the price – the so-called fake-away.  

Ongoing globalization 
Inputs from different international cuisines are flooding our stores and restaurants. Today, people can enjoy a wide variety of recipes, cooking sauces, ingredients, etc. without having to leave their hometown. Trying new food has become an eating habit in its own. 

As you know, this overview isn’t complete, but it paints the picture well. Meat manufacturers are forced to make a call: keep on doing what they do and hope for the best, or rethink meat and see these trends as opportunities rather than risks. 

Tapping into changing consumer demands 

Google ‘the future of meat’ and you’ll get plenty of results stating we’ll all be eating lab-grown meat by 2050. Other names for the same concept are cultivated meat, cultured meat, cell-based meat, and non-slaughter meat. 

So, should all meat manufacturers dive into their labs and start experimenting with cells? No, there are plenty of other, less radical ways to connect with today’s consumers. Here are four of them: 

#1 Healthier meat
With hybrid products – which include both meat and plant-based ingredients, such as vegetables, mushrooms, and seeds – you can provide the flavour and texture consumers crave, with the healthfulness that they desire.  

#2 QSR-style experiences
Offering QSR and other distinct foodservice solutions for retailers can be a fruitful way of speaking to consumers who are watching their budget but still want the full eating-out experience. 

#3 Less but better meat
Consumers are very clear about what they want from meat products today. Some attributes get extra attention (e.g. local, slow-grown, grass-fed, etc.), while others get blacklisted (e.g. antibiotic-free, additive-free, gluten-free, etc.). 

#4 Nutritive meat
Thai, Mexican and other exotic cuisines have gained appeal fast and meat manufacturers can benefit from this trend by offering international meat. However, these should also excel in nutritional profile, from less salt, fat and sugar, all the way to clear labels. 

Discover how to turn these 4 options into mouth-watering meat concepts