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How grocery categories have fared during the pandemic

Meat and fresh seafood along with meals and baking aisles are seeing booming sales as the coronavirus pandemic upends the grocery industry.

Using data collected by marketing research firm 210 Analytics and IRI, Grocery Dive examined sales across 11 categories at multiple outlets, including grocery, dollar and mass merchandisers.

To see how the categories performed during the pandemic, Grocery Dive looked at the percentage growth of dollar sales from March 15 to Oct. 4 of this year compared to the same time period last year. For comparison, the same categories saw sales increase between 0.4% (dairy) and 4.2% (deli) year-over-year in 2019.

The fresh seafood (32%), frozen food (30%) and the meat department (28%) saw some of the largest sales growth during the measured period, with IRI and 210 Analytics predicting that by the end of the year sales will hit roughly $55 billion for the meat department, $49 billion for the frozen department and $5 billion for fresh seafood.

Sales have stayed elevated throughout the pandemic so far this year as more people prepare meals at home. Meat and seafood led perimeter growth in Q2 with sales up roughly 32% from 2019, according to the United Fresh Produce Association. A recent study by the Food Industry Association and the Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education, which was prepared by 210 Analytics, found that roughly 48% of surveyed shoppers bought more meat during the first half of the year.

till, grocers have struggled during the pandemic with reports of workers getting sick, prompting meat processing facilities to shut down and grocers to place purchasing restrictions on certain items.

Plant-based meat sales are growing much faster than conventional counterparts, but they still have a long way to go to catch up to the $95 billion U.S. meat market at retail.

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