Case-ready’s time has arrived.

For years now, the Sealed Air National Meat Case Study has been showing steady growth in case-ready as a share of all packages in grocery meat cases. The 2022 study showed a continuation of that trend with a greater share of case-ready across all proteins, large and small.

Penetration of case ready is tremendous in areas like chicken, turkey, lamb and other meats but is also growing rapidly in beef and pork, said Anne-Marie Roerink, president of San Antonio-based 210 Analytics.

“While the entire industry is dealing with labor issues now, labor has been an issue in the meat department for a long time. Combined with shrink and the changing shopper demographics, many retailers are rethinking the need for a large full-service counter.”

Some retailers, Roerink said, are removing full-service containers altogether in exchange for more of a cut-behind-the-glass system or having people available in the self-serve areas. Some are reducing the size of the counter, and others have adjusted the times they’re open, placing packaged products in the full-service counter.

“Addressing labor and shrink issues goes hand-in-hand with thinking through case-ready altogether or for certain proteins and cuts. If you figure that most packer/processors have waiting lists to take on more retailers on their case-ready programs, it is very likely that we will continue to see a greater presence of case-ready in future years.”