Retail sales data show U.S. meat department sales were up substantially in value and volume during the seven weeks from March 8 through April 26.
Dollar sales in the meat departments were up 21.7% year-to-date through the final week in April, boosted by double-digit growth for seven weeks running. Year-to-date volume sales were up 15.9% over the same time period in 2019.
The data analysis of U.S. meat department sales and volume were conducted by Anne-Marie Roerink, 210 Analytics, LLC, San Antonio, Texas. She said the gap between volume and dollar sales is widening —signaling significant upward pressure on pricing due to tightness in the supply chain.
The upward trend was even more pronounced the last full week of April, with dollar sales up 49.7% ad volume 34.8% higher. That week, “there was an increasing amount of coverage of the various plant closures in consumer media which likely caused additional trips and purchases of shopper looking to stock up some more.”
Roerink says volume gains have been trailing dollars for years, but the gap is widening.
“The latest four weeks ending April 26 versus the comparable period in 2019 show volume/dollar gaps ranging from nearly 13 percentage points for turkey, 12 points for pork, 10 points for beef to just 4 points for chicken,” she said.
Supply is likely to continue to impact the dollar and volume performance in weeks to come. “Plants are beginning to reopen, but labor has been slow to return and volumes remain sharply below year-ago levels,” said Christine McCracken, Executive Director Food & Agribusiness for Rabobank. “Beef and pork production are both down 35% year-over-year. A handful of chicken and turkey plants closed in the past week, but the impact on total production has been limited. Processors are allocating limited supplies to their bigger customers, leaving smaller, more regional operators with fewer options.”
Roerink says it is likely that consumers will continue to shift back and forth between proteins as they have in prior years when inflation or deflation affected the retail marketplace.
Beef and chicken, the two largest proteins, saw the largest increases in terms of dollars during the week of April 26 versus the comparable week in 2019.
“In absolute dollars, beef sold an additional $229 million, with ground beef generating 39% of these additional dollars, or +$88 million. Chicken generated $79 million more during the last full week of April versus the same week in 2019,” Roerink says.
“Ground proteins continue to be popular due to their versatility and ease of preparation. With the renewed surge in meat purchases, limits on ground beef or the total number of meat packages persisted for many retailers.”
Dollar sales of various products over the week ending April 26 versus the comparable week in 2019 :
- Ground beef increased 55.8%
- Ground turkey, +46.9%
- Ground chicken, +61.2%
- Ground pork, +50.7%