SAN ANTONIO – Leading up to Memorial Day celebrations, the end of May often brings the summer grilling season, and with it, significant sales boosts. That may be why compared to the same timeframe in 2019, data from 210 Analytics and IRI shows the week ending on May 24 saw the lowest fresh perimeter sales gain since Easter week, with an overall gain of 12.8%.  

Coming into the week of May 24, dollar sales in the meat department were elevated by 20.7%. Turkey (up 46.1%) and beef (up 39.3%) were the top performing meats. Chicken was up 23.8%, pork was up 35.2% and lamb was up 36.6%.    

There remained a significant gap between dollars and volume sales growth, with the entire meat category seeing volume sales up by 5.1%. The widest gap among products was an 18.9% gap between beef dollar and volume sales followed by a 15% gap for pork and a 9.9% gap for lamb.  

“US beef production was only 8% behind year-ago levels during the holiday-shortened week, while pork production was 6% behind last year’s pace,” said Christine McCracken, executive director of food and agribusiness for Rabobank. “Labor availability remains a challenge throughout the industry, forcing some plants to forgo deboning and other value-added activity. The chicken industry faced limited disruption this past week with ample labor and plants able to run on Saturdays to maintain production volumes. Chicken supplies will soon tighten however, as production cuts in April and May will begin to limit availability.”   

Like in previous weeks, the bakery and deli departments were still struggling in the week leading up to May 24. The deli department continues to see mixed results. Overall, department sales were down 13.8%. Deli cheese was up at 13.4%, deli meat was up by 4.8% and deli prepared foods were down 27.4%. 

“More and more states are allowing restaurants to reopen dine-in facilities which will change the already disrupted demand landscape for deli-prepared offerings yet again,” said Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator with International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). “How the dinner dollar is spent and will be spent in the next few months continues to be in flux as frozen foods have seen enormous strength.”