Retail sales of fresh and deli-style meat and poultry surged mid-March when Americans started stocking up on food for the coronavirus (COVID-19) stay-at-home recommendations. Consumers are loading up their refrigerators and freezers and will likely be pushing the limit on sell-by dates to limit trips to the market as well as reduce food waste.

Ingredients that assist with extending shelf life as well as ones that provide a food safety hurdle are more important than ever at this time. Such ingredients include, but are not limited to antioxidants, plant extracts, food-grade acids and buffered vinegar.

Meat and poultry have been the leading sales driver for the store perimeter, up by 91% for the week ended March 22, with volume sales up 78%, according to IRI. This is on top of the 7% dollar increase for the week ended March 8 and the 77% surge the week ended March 15.

“Beef and chicken, the two largest protein categories, saw the largest increases in terms of dollars, and turkey was once again the highest in percentage growth,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics LLC, San Antonio. “These spikes can be attributed to the combination of panic buying and freezer stocking. IRI found that among those stocking up, the top goal is having a two-week supply.”