KANSAS CITY, MO. — Cryovac Brand recently shared its latest findings from the 2022 National Meat Case Study, which spans a broad range of features including sales, performance, packaging and packaging claims. During a webinar produced by the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) on Oct. 27, principal of 210 Analytics and author of the annual Power of Meat report Anne-Marie Roerink detailed the booming progress of the meat case.

“As we all know, it’s been a great number of years in terms of dollars, and we have gone all the way from three years ago less than $70 billion — and we thought we were big then — all the way to $85 billion over the latest 52 weeks, according to our partners at IRI,” Roerink said. “That in terms of dollars is a 6.5% growth increase versus a year ago.”

Beef reigns supreme in market share, making up nearly $31 billion. Chicken comes in as a solid second at $14.6 billion, and pork represents the third largest share with $7.3 billion.

In the meat case, case-ready packaging is on trend. Total number of case-ready packages sits at 83%, up from 49% in 2002. Currently turkey, chicken and lamb are the biggest adopters of case-ready packaging, but grab-and-go products are on the rise in each protein category.

Recent data shows a shift in type of packaging. Retail is moving away from foam trays toward trayless, with 41% of meat case packages being trayless.

“When I see numbers like this and I see that we are moving so much more to vacuum and so much more away from foam toward trayless, I think that is something we need to celebrate as a meat industry as well, where we’re helping package waste, food waste, and we’re making it easy for people to freeze,” Roerink said.

The National Meat Case Study found that 41% of packages have a “natural” claim, slowly but steadily climbing in its share of total packages.

“Organic remains very strong,” Roerink noted. “Sales have reached $1.5 billion, so it’s not a huge percentage, but it’s a strong and consistent percentage. And as you can see, despite all that pressure on income, it continued to grow in dollars, in units and pounds, and that’s something that’s very important to keep an eye on.”

Chicken is not as heavily reliant of “natural” claims as other meats but stresses antibiotic-related claims. Nearly 60% of chicken products note an antibiotic-related claim. Overall sales for meat products with antibiotic-related claims topped $10.7 billion.