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Study Shows Summer Meat Demand Ahead Of 2019 Levels

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IRI, 210 Analytics and Marriner Marketing have partnered to analyze the latest trends in 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 $4.56 in July, which was up two cents from the June level, though up 7 percent versus year ago. This means meat had below-average inflation compared to totals food and beverages.

In the past few months, meat inflation has been milder than the 52-week average, indicating that the increases are moderating. Inflation in processed meat did stay in the double digits, at 12.8 percent in July. 

On the fresh meat side, July inflation was highest for chicken and turkey while beef prices were down. Fresh exotic prices were up by .5 percent in July. This includes bison that has had much lower rates of inflation throughout the pandemic.   

July pounds tracked slightly ahead of the volume sales seen in 2019. This meant slight year-on-year declines of 1.3 percent, predominantly driven by processed meat. 

The strong July performance is a continuation of a sales trend line that has moved volume closer to year ago levels for a while now. The year-on-year volume declines were steepest in the second quarter of 2021, when sales went up against the incredible early pandemic peaks. Volume was a mere 1.3 percent behind year ago levels in July. 

July’s showing was especially impressive as the average assortment was down 3.5 percent versus year ago and 6 percent versus 2019. That means fewer items have to work harder to achieve the same sales results and assortment optimization becomes more important. 

Total fresh meat sales were up 4 percent in July. Poultry delivered big, but this was inflation driven. The impact of the very inflationary levels in poultry is clear with beef and pork growing pounds year-on-year versus declines for chicken and turkey.

Processed meat dollars grew over the 2021 sales levels by 8.8 percent in July and the growth performance was supported by all areas. Packaged lunchmeat surpassed bacon in July sales with a big inflationary boost. In pounds, however, all items were down versus year ago levels, with two exceptions of processed chicken and hot dogs. 

July was a good month for power seller ground beef with dollar growth versus year ago, two years ago and the pre-pandemic 2019. The second-largest seller, ground turkey, also grew as did chicken.

Areas that lost a little ground in comparison to last year’s sales were ground lamb and veal. While the fourth-largest seller, ground pork is a winning story with a year-on-year volume increase of 16.8 percent. Ground pork was up 30.1 percent in pounds versus 2019. 

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

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