According to the annual report by Circana, 210 Analytics and Hillphoenix, the average price per pound in the meat department across all cuts and kinds stood at $4.60 in July, which was unchanged from the levels seen in July 2022.
Pricing was slightly higher for fresh meat but processed meat prices came down 1.9 percent from July 2022 levels, primarily driven by bacon and sausage.
After months of double-digit inflation, chicken price at retail caught up with the decreases seen in wholesale. The average price per pound for chicken in July stood at $2.98, which was down 4.9 percent versus July 2022.
Turkey prices were virtually flat for the first time in many months. The big difference in July was the average retail price of beef that increased by 6.2 percent after several months of deflation. Deflation did persist for bacon and sausage.
In July, flat prices in combination with fewer units and pounds sold than last year resulted in meat dollar sales being down 1.2 percent year-on-year. On an annual basis, meat sales still tracked 1 percent ahead in dollars.
On the flipside, the pound performance improved. While pounds were down 1 percent in July versus its year-ago levels, this was better than the 1.7 percent decline seen in the 52-week performance.
The July Fourth week showed strong results: dollar sales increased by 2.8 percent year-over-year and pounds improved as much as 4.3 percent. The other three July weeks were down in dollars, units and pounds – yet again illustrating the power of holidays and celebrations.
Volume was trending closer to year ago levels until the fourth quarter of 2022, but recovery stalled come 2023. Pounds sales trended between 2-3 percent behind the prior year levels for the first six months of the year and moved within 1 percent in July on strong holiday sales.
Because of strong inflationary conditions having turned into deflationary or flat prices, the dollar and volume lines are starting to trend close together.
Assortment, measured in the number of weekly items per store averaged 491 meat and poultry SKUs in July 2023. This was down 1.3 percent compared to the assortment in July 2022.
Fresh meat sales by protein
The improved pound performance can be seen for both fresh and processed meat. In July, pounds were down 0.7 percent versus July 2022 whereas in the full-year view, pound sales decreased by 1.2 percent.
The difference in the dollar performance is also affected by the very different levels of inflation/deflation. For instance, the performances of the two biggest sellers, beef and chicken, were very different in July. Whereas beef experienced a 2.7 percent decrease in pound sales, chicken pound sales increased 3 percent.
These are fairly typical recessionary and inflationary patterns. Chicken and fresh exotic (including bison) were the only two areas that increased pound sales in July. Chicken was the only species to accomplish pound growth in the 52-week look.
July processed meat sales were about half that of fresh meat, at $2.2 billion. Dollar sales were down by 3.8 percent versus July 2022, while pounds decreased 1.9 percent.
In the 52-week view, dollar sales did stay ahead of year-ago levels by 1 percent, whereas the pound performance was pulled down by packaged lunchmeat and processed chicken. Interestingly, the latter has had a stellar performance in the frozen food aisles.
In the past year, grinds generated $12.2 billion, with 85 percent of dollars and pounds being generated by ground beef. The ground beef performance exceeds that of total beef with an increase in pounds in both the short and longer-time periods.
Additionally, ground chicken, turkey and lamb gained in pounds in July as grinds bring affordability and versatility to the meat department.
A moderating rate of inflation typically means a boost in sales. However, aside from strong holiday week sales, everyday sales have not yet shown signs of recovery but rather point to strength in grinds and some of the cheaper types and cuts.
Read more meat news from The Shelby Report.