Food retailers face a conundrum when looking at the possibilities with beef: Consumers increasingly want to express themselves and experiment with food, but these consumers also report time constraints. A recent piece of research by the Beefboard in the U.S.A.found that customization is a critical trend in connecting with consumers. In fact, 42 percent of consumers surveyed would visit restaurants if they offered greater ability to customize food, so whether it’s an experience in a restaurant or in the prepared food section of a grocery store, consumer expectations don’t waiver.

Here are some possibilities with beef that retailers can take advantage of consumer trends:

Beef still reigns as king when it comes to foodservice.

It holds a large portion of the consumer market, with 90 percent of shoppers eating beef monthly. The trend will continue to flourish, as positive feelings toward beef and shoppers’ demand rises. This should be seen as the time to expanding beef selections and options.

Consumers have a renewed focus on experience.

Through various ways –dining atmosphere, or new foods, the vital need to connect is increasingly important. Other than popular steak cuts and ground beef, most consumers do not feel confident in selecting cuts for a specific purpose. All the while, they would like to quickly cook a real meal with the same speed, ease and results as convenience foods. But they just do not have the time, planning capacity, cooking knowledge or skills to pull it all together every night.

Shoppers are looking for interactive dishes in foodservice.

Elevate shopping experiences by introducing variety and value through customizable, interactive dishes. Tableside preparation and deconstructed meals are two ways self-described foodies are enjoying new cooking experiences. Retailers have an opportunity to bring these types of meals to consumers with in-store options, such as meal kits.

Some of the new, ultra-convenient beef products being discussed and considered with retailers include:

Microwavable roasts

Tri-tip roasts and Sirloin Cap roasts make delicious center-of-plate entrees. This innovation program utilizes special packaging, developed specifically along with seasoning profiles and fat trim levels, to allow microwave preparation of roasts with less than 20 minutes of cooking time followed by a rest period. The roasts are packaged in a special plastic bag that allows air to vent while cooking the roast to an appetizing brown exterior and desired level of internal doneness in the microwave.

Microwavable ground beef

The packaging for this product is similar to that of the microwavable roasts. The product safely cooks from frozen or fresh in 6 to 9 minutes, and the ground beef then can be crumbled and added to sauces, seasoned for tacos or used in any recipes that call for ground beef. Following cooking, liquid drains to a separate chamber in the lower part of the bag, for transfer to a sauce dish or gravy pan, or the entire bag can be easily tossed into the bin.

Skillet meals

These “weekday steaks and roasts” are packaged with seasonings and easy preparation instructions to provide a beef entrée in less than 20 minutes.

Delicatessen beef

Delis are a rapidly growing section within the supermarket, and a popular choice for shoppers wanting to purchase prepared foods for consumption at home. Chicken and ham tend to dominate the meat selections though, and here too consumers are wanting supermarkets to develop beef options for in-store preparation so that deli employees, who typically are not trained chefs, can prepare and explain items.

Slow-cooker pot roasts

 To make mealtime simpler for busy working families, a packaged, pre-seasoned slow-cooker roast that cooks in its own bag is being trialed. Just cut off one corner of the bag, set it in the slow cooker, cover and turn it on. As with the microwave ground beef, the juices move to a separate chamber in the bag when removed from the cooker for easy separation.

Consumers are insisting on transparency

Consumers want information readily available, specifically on beef, and they want this information validated through third party sources. High-level overviews resonate well with consumers. This is a major advantage of Australian Beef as it is validated by some of the highest standards in the world.

With this information, retailers can evolve with market demands. 

By creating more options and opportunity for shoppers to customize their own food, retailers have an opportunity to exceed consumers’ expectations. Fifty percent of the surveyed population said they would go to individual locations if they could personalize a dish to their liking. Shoppers want to ‘have it their way,’ and want more viable options in foodservice meals.