The deli meat category grew dollars as prices increased in the 52 weeks ending June 30, 2012, but volume sales suffered. Compared to the prior year, sales of specialty deli meats outperformed all other deli meat types as retailers offered more specialty deli meat items on their shelves.

Nationally, deli meat sales accounted for 22.3% of deli department dollar sales in the 52 weeks ending June 30, 2012, down 1 percentage point compared to the previous year. The category averaged weekly sales of $5,289 per store, a 2% increase from $5,185 the previous year. The top week for deli meat sales occurred the last week of August with sales of $5,931. Sales declined the weeks following Thanksgiving ($4,583 per store), Christmas ($4,520 per store) and Easter ($4,602 per store). 

The East region had the highest per-store dollar average with $10,403 per week, almost double that of the next leading Central region with $6,311. The South and the West regions followed with $3,904 and $3,349 in average per-store deli meat category sales, respectively.  

Average weekly deli meat sales increased across all regions, with growth rates of 4.9% in the South, 0.6% in the West and 0.1% each in the Central and East regions. Dollar growth for deli meats lagged behind that of the deli department in all regions. Price inflation drove the growth of the category.

Compared to the previous year, the deli meat category’s dollar contribution to deli department sales declined in all regions, with the Central region down 1.5 percentage points, the East down 1.3 percentage points, the West down 0.8 percentage point and the South down 0.6 percentage point. Deli meat’s highest contribution to deli department sales occurred in the East (28.9%), followed by the Central region (25.2%), the South (20.9%) and the West (14.9%) regions.

Across the total US, bulk deli meat led sales with 87.7% dollar share of the deli meat category, followed by pre-sliced deli meat at 8.6% and specialty deli meat — which consists of the stick versions of pepperoni, sausage and salami — at 3.8%. Both pre-sliced and specialty deli meats each gained 0.3 percentage point of dollar share at the expense of bulk deli meat.

Dollar growth occurred for all deli meat types. Strong sausage and salami sales, partly driven by an increase of the average number of unique items on store shelves, drove the 8.7% growth of specialty deli meat. Higher prices drove the 4.8% growth for pre-sliced deli meat and the 1.5% growth for bulk deli meat.

This sales review is provided by Nielsen Perishables Group. Based in Chicago, Nielsen Perishables Group specializes in fresh food sales measurement, analytics, marketing communications, category development, promotional best practices and shopper insights. Reported results are for the 52 weeks ending June 30, 2012, representing more than 63 percent of national supermarket ACV share. 

For more information contact the Nielsen Perishables Group: Kelli Beckel, 773.929.7013;