GERMANY, Frankfurt. The past few weeks have seen incredible spikes in grocery sales as the nation hunkered down amid the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. According to IRI, meat has been the leading sales driver for the perimeter, up by 91% for the week ending March 22, with volume sales up 78%. This is on top of the 7% dollar increase for the week ending March 8 and the 77% surge the week ending March 15.
All meat and poultry moved at unprecedented volumes, whether fresh or fully cooked items. The inflection point in shopping behavior was the week of March 1, when non-edibles started to gear up, but meat sales gains were still much in line with trends seen in 2019, ranging from -5% (pork) to +1% (lamb). Meat sales started to rise the subsequent week ending March 8, with increases between 4% (lamb) and 10% (turkey).
Beef and chicken, the two largest proteins, saw the largest increases in terms of dollars, and turkey was once again the highest in percentage growth. In absolute dollars, the five biggest winners for the week of March 22 were ground beef (>$180 mill. more versus the comparable week in 2019), chicken breasts (>$75 mill.), pork loin (>$40 mill.), beef short loin (nearly $40 mill.) and beef chuck (>$35 mill.), according to IRI. The other items making up the top 10 were ribeyes, beef round, chicken wings, recipe-ready beef and pork ribs.
Ground continued to be big, regardless of species, given its versatile and easy-to-prepare nature.
Sales surged across all proteins and offerings.
Fresh beef sales virtually doubled over the comparable week in 2019, generating close to $900 mill. the week of March 22. This is more than $425 mill., or 95%, over last year and ranchers rose up to the occasion. Beef volume sales were up 80%. Ground beef, more than 41% of beef sales, gained big the week of March 22, at +104% — adding more than $180 mill. in new dollars. Five areas within beef more than doubled sales versus the comparable week in 2019: ground beef, short loin, chuck, round and ribs.
Fresh chicken generated more than $400 mill. in the week ending March 22, up $165 mill. or +70%, according to IRI. Fresh chicken was the only fresh protein that saw a small decline from the prior week and stock-outs likely influenced these results. Volume sales accelerated 63% this week. Generating half of total chicken sales, chicken breasts sales were 64% over 2019. Chicken thighs gained more than $15 mill. (+55%) and chicken legs increased nearly $13 mill., +80%. Cornish game hens proved to be a good back up to more familiar cuts to consumers, with a 207% gain over the comparable week in 2019.
Fresh pork doubled the week of March 22, to close to $100 mill., according to IRI. Making up just under 45% of pork sales, pork loin added more than $40 mill. in new dollars, or +95%. Cuts that more than doubled in sales included belly/side, fresh ham/leg, marinated and seasoned pork, ribs and shoulder blade. Smoked pork and ham sales, too, increased significantly over the latest week, at +115% and +222%, respectively.
Deli meat generated an additional 38% in sales the week of March 22, 2020. Deli turkey and ham each increased sales by around $15 mill., a 38% increase for turkey and 48% for ham.
The subsequent week, March 23 to 28, saw an increase of mandatory shelter-at-home orders, further social distancing guidelines and a rapid increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases. 210 Analytics and IRI will provide sales updates weekly, every Monday. Meanwhile, please thank the entire meat and poultry industry, from farm to store for all they do to ensure supply during these unprecedented times.