Value-added Proteins Gaining Steam at Grocery Stores

Remember when dinnertime meant mom yelling for you to wash your hands and come to the table for the meal she had cooked, largely from scratch? You didn’t have to think about the menu because mom already had done that. Dinner was convenient. Simple. Often delicious.

Grocery stores are now attempting to give their customers a taste of that convenience once again with value-added proteins: pe-portioned and pre-seasoned meats and seafood, packaged with the attendant vegetables. You may have to cook it, but you don’t have to do the meal prep that often takes longer than the cooking itself.

“A lot of people are very busy nowadays. There is not much time for preparing full and healthy meals, which tends to drive them to getting takeout,” Joe Bowab, CEO and founder of Lobster Anywhere, told The Food Institute. “But there has been a surge in people wanting to make the effort themselves—which is the perfect market for aiding them in the process. They are more likely to choose an option that is less work for them to do.”

FMI and the North American Meat Institute’s 2023 Power of Meat study found purchases of value-added meat options rose 73% in 2022 when 60% of consumers acknowledged they sometimes or often bought pre-marinated, pre-cut or pre-seasoned meat—double the level seven years ago, Progressive Grocer reported (Aug. 10).

Chef Nathaniel Leo told The Food Institute the value-added proteins segment is ripe for expansion, catering to dietary and cooking preferences and introducing innovative flavors and global cuisines.

“Collaborating with chefs, influencers, or meal planning services can help increase brand visibility and credibility. These partnerships can offer recipe ideas and promotional opportunities and inspire consumer confidence in the quality and taste of the products,” Leo said.

Michael Uetz, principal at Chicago-based Midan Marketing, told Progressive Grocer that consumers are moving from scratch cooking, which became the rage during the pandemic, to “a mix of prepared and scratch-made elements.”

“In addition to the traditional pre-marinated and pre-seasoned products, we have started seeing more products that are meat-vegetable blends in this space,” Uetz said, adding that new value-added proteins like pre-seasoned lamb and sandwich kits also are making an appearance.

“Many retailers have started to offer a wider variety of prepared meals, meal kits and chef-prepared meals in their stores. From H-E-B Fresh Bites to Fresh to Table from ShopRite, offering one-stop shopping for a full meal is becoming more and more popular.”

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