Nearly two thirds of Americans are buying value-added meat either sometimes or frequently, according to 2024 Power of Meat data.

And for many, “value-added” means pre-seasoned and marinated products, a reality that producers and retailers are taking full advantage of.

“They provide consumers who are in search of a quality homecooked meal with exactly what they’re looking for — value and convenience — in one package,” said Ozlem Worpel, vice president, marketing and innovation, for Seaboard Foods. “We’re also seeing that with the rising costs of dining at restaurants, more people are looking for fresh exciting ways to enhance their at-home meals without breaking the bank.”

Pre-seasoned products, she added, are a simple way for shoppers to do just that, reducing the number of items to purchase to prepare a wholesome and flavorful meal. And fortunately, pork is a great “flavor carrier” in the protein category.

Garlic Herb and Rotisserie are perennial pre-seasoned and marinated favorites, Worpel said, but spicy is the dominant flavor trend right now, Worpel said. 

When Prairie Fresh saw how popular Nashville hot chicken was, the company thought, ‘If chicken, why not pork?’

But Nashville Hot isn’t the only new addition to Prairie Fresh Signature’s lineup of pre-seasoned pork products. Hawaiian Sea Salt and Honey Siracha have also been big hits. 

“We’ve continued to expand our value-added line, which has grown to 13 flavors over the past few years,” Worpel said. “We’re always looking for the next big trend.”

The company is also always looking to give the value-added touch to different cuts and types of meat.

Later this year, for instance, Prairie Fresh ground pork and sausage, available in several trending flavors, will launch.

Consumers seek convenience

Seasoned and marinated meats are a big hit with more and more consumers, said Dana Ehrlich, founder and board member of Verde Farms, who cites Nielsen data reporting a 6% increase in dollar sales year-over-year in the week ending March 23.

“It’s growing faster than the total beef category,” Ehrlich said. “Summertime is a great time to get outside and fire up the barbeque. Pre-seasoned and marinated meats are a convenient way to satisfy hungry guests around the pool or coming back from the park.”

Rikki Ingram, director of beef and pork marketing for Tyson Foods, sees strong demand for marinated and pre-seasoned meats among Gen Z and millennials, especially those in urban areas.

“They’re seeking the convenience and variety that seasoned and marinated meats provide.”

But younger consumers aren’t the only ones looking to simplify their meal prep, Ingram said, citing the Power of Meat 2024 report, which found that one in three consumers spends less than 25 minutes on meal preparation.

“Seasoned and marinated meats have always delivered value beyond price for shoppers, even as they look to stretch their grocery budgets.”

Tyson also sees an opportunity to communicate the benefits of seasoned and marinated products to the 43% of shoppers who continue to eat out at restaurants less frequently than they used to, according to the Power of Meat.

Seasoned and marinated meats are also ideal candidates for LTOs and promotions, enticing consumers to try something new, Ingram said.

“Price may be top consideration for first purchase, but taste is top consideration for repeat purchases, so we see great opportunities there,” Ingram said.

Retailers and consumers can look forward to new seasoned and marinated poultry products from Tyson, including portioned chicken breast filets, breast fajita strips, chicken tenders and thighs. The company also will expand its seasoned and marinated case-ready beef offerings with sirloin steak bites.

Those new products will join a seasoned and marinated roster that includes pork loin filets available in five different flavors and pork loin griller steaks available in steakhouse, herb and olive oil, homestyle rotisserie, teriyaki and Southwest.

Beef offerings in the category include street taco meal kits and hibachi beef with noodles.

Traditional favorites — and newer players

Flavors like teriyaki and barbeque are classic seasoning favorites, Ehrlich said. And for consumers who opt for better-for-you meats such as those produced by Verde, seasonings and marinades with similarly clean ingredient statements are becoming more and more popular. Verde is a big fan of Kinder’s Organic The Taco Blend Seasoning.

Verde’s organic, 100% grass-fed — and now verified regenerative — steaks (ribeye, sirloin, strip, filet mignon, and stew meat) and ground beef (93/7, 85/15, and 80/20 lean points) are the “perfect blank canvas” for consumers to season or marinade at home to meet their family’s specific tastes and preferences, said Kirstyn Lipson, Verde’s marketing director.

New for Verde this summer is a 4-pack of 80/20 burgers in an easy-to-open and store-for-later packaging. With a longer shelf life and a smaller footprint on shelf, they’re a win-win for retailers and burger lovers alike, Lipson said.

“They’re perfect for home chefs and grill masters to make them their own.”

This article is an excerpt from the June 2024 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Seasoned & Marinated feature and more in the digital edition here.