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IRI: Meat Volume Remained Pressured As Inflation Persists

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To document the ever-changing nature of the marketplace, IRI, 210 Analytics and Marriner Marketing have continued to team up to bring the latest trends and analysis relative to meat department sales, including fresh and processed items. 

The average price per pound in the meat department across all cuts and kinds, both fixed and random weight, stood at $4.57 in May 2022, which was up from April and versus year ago. Compared to May 2021, 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 May 29, with an average price per pound of $4.25, up 10.5 percent. Inflation in processed meat, which had been lower than fresh meat in 2021, was much higher in May. 

On the fresh meat side, inflation rates for the first five months of the year were a mix of single- and double-digit levels. Lamb and exotic meats such as bison had single-digit inflation year-to-date, as did smoked ham. Ground beef, bacon, breakfast sausage and dinner sausage were among the highest ones.   

As grilling season has officially started, finding ways to tie into outdoor cooking and entertaining can be a growth opportunity. 

  • Sixty-nine percent plan to host at least one cookout or barbecue to entertain friends and family this summer, typically averaging some six to nine guests, according to the May IRI shopper survey.
  • Additionally, 71 percent of consumers plan to grill or cook meals outdoors this summer.
  • Consumers like experimenting with new items on the grill and many prefer preparing meat/seafood from scratch, while 17 percent buy grill-ready items. Consumers are a bit more likely to buy ready-to-eat sides, at 23 percent.

April was the first time pounds fell below 2019 pre-pandemic levels. In May, pounds dropped further to 3.1 percent versus 2019. This indicates shoppers limited their meat purchases, in light of inflation.

The supply chain disruption is reflected in the average items in the meat department during the first quarter of 2022, in particular. Assortment recovered a little from the first quarter levels, to an average of 535 items, down 3.2 percent year-on-year, but still 5.9 percent versus pre-pandemic.

While the total meat department gained 2.3 percent in dollar sales, it was poultry that delivered the most growth. Chicken grew 15.2 percent in May 2022 versus year ago and turkey added 8.3 percent. Neither beef, nor pork, lamb, veal or exotics could reach the May 2021 dollar levels, despite the inflationary boost.

Processed meat dollars grew over the 2021 sales levels by 8.8 percent in May 2022 and the growth performance was supported by most areas except smoked ham. In pounds, however, all items were down versus year ago levels, with the one exception of processed chicken. Bacon and smoked ham in particular saw volume declines in May 2022 versus year ago.  

While total beef declined in dollars, ground beef grew in dollars. Turkey, chicken and pork all grew dollars as well. On the volume side, ground turkey, chicken and pork all were above or close to year ago levels, whereas ground beef lost 5.6 percent in pounds year-on-year. Ground beef also paced behind the pre-pandemic 2019 levels in May, whereas the other grinds all stayed ahead.

For more information, visit iriworldwide.com.

For more meat, seafood and poultry news from The Shelby Report, click here.

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