Barbecue season is upon us, and the air most summer weekends is almost inevitably aromatic with all manner of charred meat. But the question is, "what's on your grill this summer?" From "free range" and "grass fed" to "all natural" and "pasture raised", carnivorous consumers have a virtual buffet of options to pick from when putting together their menus. If variety is indeed the spice of life, then the U.S. market for meats is in for palatable—as well as palpable—growth.  From all evidence, the market for beef, pork, lamb, bison, and venison raised in idyllic conditions is rising steadily with meat (along with fish and poultry) among the fastest growing components of the overall organic food market over the last decade, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts in the report Branded Refrigerated Meats and Meals: U.S. Market Trends.

Packaged Facts online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted in April and May 2014 found that well over half of the respondents (57%) regularly buy more healthful meat items. Only about 10% said they did not. Further, almost the identical percentages apply, agreeing and disagreeing, to the statement "I Regularly Buy Higher-Quality Meat Items."

The Packaged Facts survey also found that over 40% of the respondents seek out meat from local sources as opposed to 22% that don't pursue this as a venue for their meat supply. A little over a third of the respondents indicated that they regularly buy natural and organic meat products.

In addition, over 56% of the respondents said they are concerned about the use of antibiotics and hormones in meat, as opposed to the 21% of the respondents who appear not to be concerned about the issue. Over 53% of the respondents said they worry about the preservatives and additives in meat. Less than 20% indicated they were not worried about this. Further, over 40% of the respondents reported that they seek out meat from animals that were raised more humanely.