Cartoon image of people shopping in a grocery store aisle

August 11,2020

Meating the Challenge Part 2: Product Premiumization

As retail sales approach $100 billion in 2021 for meat, poultry, and plant-based alternatives, manufacturers and formulators are diving headfirst into this category, investigating what product developments could maximize this market opportunity.1 Fortunately, in a consumer driven marketplace, shoppers have specified key traits that catch their attention and influence their purchasing decisions. While the shopper experience is personal, many influential traits can be categorized into the health-conscious consumer, product premiumization, and plant-based alternatives. As discussed in Meating the Challenge Part 1:

  • Health-Conscious Consumer: As health officials warn of potential diet-related health concerns, consumers are taking a larger role in their own health and well-being.
  • Product Premiumization: While shoppers are continuing to look for items that promote their health and well-being, they are also mindful to choose products with additional added values – such as premium products.
  • Plant-Based Alternatives: As product developers pursue innovations that fit today’s top trends, plant-based products have seen an increased interest from consumers across all applications.


Product Premiumization

Last year alone, supermarkets carried an average of over 33,000 items in store – offering shoppers a variety of products to choose from.2 However, with so many options available, shoppers have become so overwhelmed to the point they decide to choose nothing at all.3 These shopper decisions and attitudes have become a hurdle for manufactures and formulators to overcome as they look to continue growing and expanding their businesses.  

To help shoppers make purchasing decisions, experts have recommended that shoppers should focus on product characteristics that “make them feel good.”4 However, defining what “makes them feel good” is entirely controlled by the shopper – so what does make them feel good when making a purchase?

In a survey conducted by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), 80% of shoppers searched for “better-for-me alternatives.” These alternative options focused on highlighting specific product characteristics that made shoppers feel like what they were buying was beneficial to themselves, the planet, animals, farmers, and other related industry workers.5 In a nutshell – shoppers want to buy products with added value – shown through front-of-pack label claims – leading to product premiumization.6

Front-of-Pack Label Claims

When looking at retail food products across the store, shoppers will notice how different products have claims listed on the front to catch their eye. Why would manufacturers work to make these added claims though? Take meat and poultry products for example – according to FMI, meat and poultry products with any claim brought in $11.5 billion in 2018, accounting for 17% of total meat sales.7 When looking at a sea of options, shoppers will look for products with those added claims that make them feel good and align with their goals to help them narrow down their choices.

While a variety of claim language is used, there are two major types of front-of-pack label claims: FDA regulated claims regarding health, nutrient content, and structure/function and “free-from” claims. As mentioned previously, FDA regulated label claims fall into three different categories:

  • Health claim: how a food substance can reduce the risk of a disease or health-related condition.
    Ex. “Adequate dietary calcium and vitamin D may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life.”
  • Nutrient content claim: describes the level of a nutrient in a food.
    Ex. low-calorie, reduced sodium, high fiber
  • Structure/function claim: how a nutrient can affect the structure or function of a human body8
    Ex. calcium builds strong bones, fiber maintains bowel regularity


The other commonly used category of claims are “free-from” claims. While a broad category, free-from claims work to provide shoppers with information that calls out certain aspects of food products that are not included from the time the animal is raised to the finished food product. For example, manufacturers and formulators have worked together to remove specific ingredients (like artificial preservatives) that consumers no longer desire. In the meat and poultry industry, free-from claims also focus on how animals are raised and processed and include claims such as free-from antibiotics or hormones. By utilizing this type of claim language, manufacturers and formulators can implement a variety of label claims that will stand out to shoppers when presented with a multitude of options – easing shopper’s purchasing decisions. 

Paraben free seal you would find on a food package in light brown
Example of a "Free-From" Claim
Low-calorie seal you would find on a food package in blue
Example of a "Nutrient Content" Claim


While consumers have a variety of factors that influence their purchasing decisions in an overwhelming marketplace, manufacturers can stand out against the rest and be kept top of mind by meeting consumer demand for products that maintain a “better-for-you” lifestyle. As the fresher, safer, longer experts, Kemin offers antioxidant and antimicrobial ingredient solutions that can help manufacturers achieve their label claim goals. By offering tailored solutions to your individual needs, our R&D team uses formulation technology to ensure the most optimal and cost-effective inclusion rate, while our Customer Laboratory Services team provides dedicated support throughout all phases of testing to reduce your testing time and speed-to-market. See how Kemin can help you meet your label claim goals, while also keeping your products fresher, safer, longer.

Stay tuned for Part 3, where we dive deeper into plant-based alternatives. In the meantime, explore more about top food and beverage industry topics here.


1Packaged Facts. (2017). Meat & Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trend & Opportunities. Retrieved from:

2Food Marketing Institute. (2019). Supermarket Facts. Retrieved from:

3,4,6DeAngelis, T. (2004). Too many choices? Retrieved from:

5,7Food Marketing Institute. (2019). The Power of Meat: An In-Depth Look Through the Shoppers’ Eyes.

8U.S Food and Drug Administration. (2018). Label Claims for Conventional Foods and Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from:,more%2C%20reduced%2C%20and%20lite.