Consumers continue to optimize each trip through excellence in in-store merchandising, in-stock performance, cross-merchandising and meal solutions. However, after an increase in store trips during the December holidays, store visits dropped below year ago levels during February.
According to Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics LLC, February had two big sales opportunities—the Superbowl and Valentine’s Day—that typically both see a lot of the food dollar flowing to foodservice. With many restaurants still operating with limited on-premise dining, food retailing strongly benefited, she explained.
The meat department dollar sales gain of 15.4% exceeded that of the fourth quarter 2020 and January. Importantly, the volume gains were the highest since the second quarter of 2020, up 8.6%. Dollars and volume trended 6.8 points apart — significantly closer than during most of 2020.
Results showed fresh meat made up the majority share of sales, at $4.0 billion, but had slightly lower gains (up 14.6%) than processed meats (up 17.2%) in February 2021.
In February 2021, beef accounted for 64% of all additional dollars over this month in 2020, but chicken had a strong month, at least in part driven by Superbowl chicken wing sales. Chicken was the second-largest contributor to sales gains, up $97 million versus year ago. Lamb had the highest percentage dollar gains, up 30.7%, but off a much smaller base.
Lamb has led all growth since the third quarter of 2020 and has remained very stable at around 30-34% over year ago levels. Beef, while the largest of the fresh proteins in dollar sales, has consistently posted the second-highest growth, in the high teens. Chicken and turkey gains have been in the high single, low double digits in the last few quarters and the start of 2021.
Roerink reported that processed meats continued their strong January start. Bacon generated the highest sales, at $490 million, as well as the highest gains, up 28.1% in January 2021 versus year ago during February. Packaged lunchmeat, the second largest seller, had the lowest increase but was still up 9.4% versus year ago. This was up from 8.2% in January. Hot dogs continue to have an astounding performance as a versatile and kid-friendly item, up 14.1% over year ago.
Grinds continued to do extremely well in February. Ground beef sales totaled $1.0 billion in dollars and 257 million pounds. Ground beef alone added $74 million versus year ago levels in February. Ground pork sales totaled $14.0 million, up 16%. Altogether, the meat grinds listed below generated an additional $90 million during the four February weeks versus an additional $4.4 million for refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives that continue to see aggressive growth, up 85.2%.
With an early Easter, Roerink said March results will see a spike in Easter powerhouses, which will fuel even higher lamb sales.