Isolationism: Solo Diners Adversely Affect Welsh Meat Industry

Over 40% of people now eat meals alone, with changing lifestyle patterns and increased time pressures responsible for a drop in consumer connectedness with meal preparation.
Recent research from Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) has shown that 42% of meals are now eaten alone. Only 11% of meals are now eaten by a traditional family of four, which is at least part of the reason for falling consumer demand for Welsh beef and lamb.

Isolationism

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Meal Preparation

In addition to the sharp decline in family meals, the time we spend preparing our meals is also shrinking. Over the last 35 years, meal preparation times have almost halved from around one hour to just 32 minutes. Undoubtedly this puts pressure on the meat industry, but as consumers want to spend less time preparing meals, there are clear opportunities to exploit for processors. Food producers can tap into the consumer demand for fast and easy food that offers something significantly new and different.

Convenience

Sue Franklin, UK Market Development Executive at Hybu Cig Cymru, says that the research shows that consumers will pay a premium for convenience food, especially if they feel that the ready-made food offers health benefits or a superior taste.

For businesses operating in the food sector, it is vital to take action now in the face of falling demand for beef and lamb. Developing new product lines and investment in equipment such as meat processing machinery from Clarke-Fussells could all help turn difficult market conditions into a growth opportunity.

Another factor cited in the HCC research was the changing shopping habits of UK consumers. Supermarkets and local high streets have lost out to discount chains and online shopping, but traditional butchers still have a key role to play in influencing shopping decisions. By providing informed advice to consumers about meat cuts and meal preparation, butchers can help people understand that preparing fresh meals doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Effective use of meat processing machinery could help butchers to provide the cuts of meat that consumers actually want and could even help butchers move into the premium end of the ready-made meal sector.

Whilst meat consumption is generally declining, there are still opportunities for growth for those who are willing to act on the emerging trends within the industry.

The author is an expert on occupational training and a prolific writer who writes extensively on Business, technology, and education. He can be contacted for professional advice in matters related with occupation and training on his blog Communal Business and Your Business Magazine.

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