IRI, 210 Analytics and AFFI have continued to team up to bring the latest trends and analysis relative to the frozen food department for June sales.
Inflation has dominated the trade and consumer headlines since early fall of last year and June is no different. While money-saving methods when buying groceries are plentiful, it is important to note that there is not a race to the bottom nor is there a complete abandoning of restaurant visits. However, the 40-year high inflation does mean consumers are much more strategic about their grocery and restaurant choices.
Frozen food prices rose in 2020 and 2021, but less so than total food and beverages. In June, the price per unit for frozen foods increased an average of 14.6 percent, a slight increase of 14.2 percent in May and higher than inflation for the total store. The biggest contributors to frozen food inflation were meat, poultry and seafood, meals and snacks. Only one area averaged single-digit inflation, beverages, which is a smaller seller.
The four June weeks brought $57.1 billion in total food and beverage sales, which was up 7.6 percent versus year ago. This is an acceleration from 6.5 percent in May. June 2022 sales were up 24.9 percent versus June 2019 – the pre-pandemic normal. All gains were inflation-boosted year-on-year, with unit sales down 4.2 percent. This was slightly better than the 4.8 percent in May, but still down substantially from the 2.4 percent unit decline measured in April.
Much like seen in the surveys, consumers are compensating for the inflationary levels by buying fewer items. Perishables, including produce, seafood, meat, bakery and deli, had average dollar and unit performance, but center-store items did better than average in both dollars and units. Frozen foods had the highest increase versus pre-pandemic, at 32.7 percent.
The frozen food department unit and volume sales were also affected by supply chain woes in June 2022. Disruption continued to affect the number of items per store. Lapping the declines in assortment seen throughout 2020 and 2021, the number of items per store in the frozen food aisle averaged 1,457 in June 2022. Year-on-year this was down 5.6 percent but compared with 2019, assortment was down 9.3 percent. That means the many fewer items need to work harder to accomplish the same sales.
All June weeks came in around $1.3-1.4 billion in sales – maintaining the weekly levels seen year-to-date. However, growth was inflation boosted with units down between about 5-7 percent each of the weeks. Taking into account that assortment has been down around 6 percent, out-of-stocks may continue to affect the results.
The June sales growth over 2022 levels was supported by all areas within frozen. Unlike prior months, the biggest sales boosts came from frozen snacks and fruit and vegetables. At the category level, strong sales growth was achieved by pizza, that was up in both dollars and units, processed poultry (chicken nuggets and strips), potatoes, onions and snacks.
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