SAN ANTONIO – As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dramatically change shopping habits for Americans, new data from 210 Analytics and IRI continues to show meat sales far exceeding what was seen in 2019.

For the week ended April 5, meat department sales were up 41% compared to a year ago.

The previous week showed a 36% increase from 2019. But meat sales really jumped the week of March 22, up a total of 92%, and the week of March 15 saw an 80% increase. 

“Sales were likely influenced by the earlier Easter and a higher everyday demand that is driving a new that sits well above the old normal,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal at 210 Analytics. “At the same time, sales results must be seen against the backdrop of many stores having shortened opening hours, closed service departments, metered entry of shoppers, purchase limitations on popular items and continued out-of-stocks for others.”

For the first week in April in specific categories, turkey sales were up 49% compared to 2019 figures, beef was up 38%, pork was up 31%, chicken was up 29%, and lamb was up 29%. 

Referring to IRI data, Roerink said fresh beef gained nearly $626 million, or 38%, the week of April 5, compared with last year. Fresh chicken sales were up 29%, generating approximately $291 million in sales. Pork sales have also increased 31% to $154 million.  

In fresh turkey sales, the numbers showed a 49% increase to $58 million. In the lamb category, sales increased 29% to $10 million.

Online meat sales continued to increase dramatically as the shopping method continues to attract new shoppers along with increased order frequencies and basket sizes, 210 Analytics said. 

IRI stats

“IRI survey data found that the number of people who place online orders versus going into the store because of coronavirus more than doubled from 8.4% the first week of March to 21.2% the first week of April,” Roerink said. “Home delivery and click-and-collect grew with equal speed. At the same time, problems securing delivery or pick up slots persisted across the country.”

Roerink forecasted that increased everyday demand on retail meat sales is likely to continue while social distancing measures are in effect, driven by increased at-home meal occasions. At the same time, economic pressure is continuing to build with ever-rising unemployment numbers.