The Back to School Lunch Meat Opportunity

The Back to School Lunch Meat Opportunity

As summer comes to a close, students across the U.S. are heading back to school and parents are once again facing the pressure of packing healthy lunches that their children will eat. As parents think about their upcoming trips to the grocery stores, it’s the perfect time for retailers to make sure their shelves are stocked with  quick, easy and healthy options. Everything from meal kits, to lunch meat, deli prepared foods and ready-to-go produce snacks provide an ample selection of options for parents and guardians as they return to the on-the-go lifestyle when their kids head back to the cafeteria.

When it comes to lunch meat, consumers’ shifting purchasing habits as the school year starts could be a boon for the category. The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry is facing increased pressures, and the lunch meat category is no exception, with 1.7% fewer dollar sales at the end of February than the year earlier. However, deli lunch meats have been a small bright spot.

With only 64% of Americans confident that their kids’ lunches are healthy, manufacturers and retailers have an opportunity to help parents in their quests to raise healthier children. Deli turkey, often perceived as healthier than packaged turkey, is bucking the downward trend by posting 1.7% dollar growth and 5% volume growth across deli meat. Along with healthier options, products with natural and organic claims are posting double digit growth. For deli lunch meat, organic is driving 13.8% growth in dollars and 18.5% in volume. Meanwhile, for packaged lunch meat in the meat section, natural is a key driver, with 13.9% dollar growth and 19.8% volume growth.  

As parents begin the school year wondering how to fill their kids’ lunch pails with healthy, inspired, fun foods, retailers and manufacturers have an opportunity to meet their needs head on. Packing a lunch doesn’t have to be complicated, and today’s lunch meats offer enough flavour variety to satisfy almost any palate.


The insights in this article were derived from:

  • Nielsen, Lunchmeat Trends Across the Store, June 2017
  • Nielsen QuickQuery survey, July 2016