Memorial Day Grilling Kicks off Prime Opportunity for Meat Department

Memorial Day Grilling Kicks off Prime Opportunity for Meat Department

This Monday, May 30, households across America will fire up their grills for a good, old-fashioned barbeque. Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer—and with it, grilling season. Whether you’re slathering on the BBQ sauce or prefer a dry-rub, meat is likely on the menu.

Memorial Day is major holiday for meat purchases. Beef, chicken, pork, franks and dinner sausage all saw above-average sales for the two weeks around Memorial Day in 2015, and with more consumers walking away from the meat department, grilling season is more important than ever. In 2015, household penetration dropped 0.2%, and while that may not sound like a lot, it equates to about $74 million in lost sales. Top that with a lower annual spend per household, which fell 2.8% from 2014 to 2015, and this summer’s meat-heavy holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July could provide a much-needed boost in sales for retailers and grocers.

The stakes (and steaks!) are high for summer grilling overall. Beef, franks and dinner sausage marked above-average sales from Memorial Day through the week of the Fourth of July in 2015. Still while hot dogs are an easy go-to choice for grill-outs, ground beef, pork and chicken were the most popular by total dollars sold for Memorial Day 2015. 

So how can the meat department make the most of the summer grilling season? Value is a major driver for consumers. Beef prices in 2015 climbed nearly 8% year-over-year, while volume slipped 3.2%. Conversely, pork prices dropped 7.4%, and pork volume responded appropriately, rising 8.4%. 

Health and wellness claims are a medium rarely used by the meat department, but they could provide opportunity. Protein claims are driving growth across a variety of categories, even in categories that aren’t growing overall. For example, frozen entrees declined as a total category, but frozen entree items that list “protein” as a claim on the package actually grew by 20% dollar sales in 2015.*

Meat may want to take a page out of the frozen entree’s book and promote protein. It seems obvious that meat and protein go hand-in-hand, but consumers may not be aware of just how much protein is in some meat. In a recent Nielsen Omnibus survey, less than 40% of consumers realize pork and chicken each contain more than 20 grams of protein for just three ounces of meat.

So as the weather warms up, the grilling season is a great time for the meat department to capitalize on our hunger for all things flame grilled and turn consumers who play chicken with the meat department into repeat customers.

*Source: Nielsen AOD, 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2015.