To document the changing nature of the marketplace, IRI, 210 Analytics and Marriner Marketing have teamed up to continue to bring the latest trends and analysis relative to meat department sales, including fresh and processed items.
Easter is typically a big selling season for meat and was the most disrupted of the major holidays in 2020, when most states were under shelter-in-place mandates. In its Easter 2022 overview, the National Retail Federation found that consumer engagement was nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, with 80 percent celebrating.
The average per person spending on all holiday-related purchases was $170 – a three-year low. Amid 40-year high inflation, consumers expected to spend more on food, but pulled back on spending in all other categories, including clothing, gifts, decorations and flowers.
The average price per pound in the meat department across all cuts and kinds, both fixed and random weight, stood at $4.37 in April 2022, which was down from $4.45 in March. Compared to year ago, meat prices were up 11.2 percent, in line with total food and beverages.
Inflation is a little milder when looking at the full 52 weeks ending April 24, with an average price per pound of $4.21, up 9.5 percent. Inflation in processed meat, which had been lower than fresh, rose to 11.7 percent in March versus year ago.
On the fresh meat side, pork, lamb, bacon, breakfast sausage and processed chicken had double digit price increases over the past 52 weeks versus year ago. The notable exception across proteins remained fresh exotic meats, including bison and venison, only up 3.3 percent in price per pound.
Easter and the rest of April delivered a strong result for the meat department. Sales reached $6.5 billion, up 7.5 percent versus a year ago. When removing the effect of high inflation, the retail supply chain continued to move 1.5 billion pounds through the system – coming within 3.4 percent of last year’s volume sales. This was, however, the first time pounds fell below 2019 sales when Easter was even later into April, pushing even more of the holiday sales into April.
The overall gain in fresh meat sales was supported by all proteins with the exceptions of exotics meat and veal – the two smallest sellers. On the volume side, all proteins trailed their April 2021 sales results except for turkey, lamb and exotics that each sold more pounds.
Processed meat dollars grew over the 2021 sales levels by 10.8 percent in April 2022 – an accelerated rate of growth versus the first quarter of the year. All areas contributed, in particular smoked ham, which tends to be an Easter favorite. The later Easter timing pushed more of the dollars into April. Smoked ham also did well in pounds, which was nearly 20 percent versus a year ago. All other processed meats fell short of last year’s volume levels.
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To read IRI’s report on dairy, deli and bakery sales from The Shelby Report, click here.