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2021 Poultry Report: poultry prospers during the pandemic

Chicken and turkey sales, like every meat category, posted impressive numbers for the 12 months ending Nov. 1, 2020, reports IRI, in Chicago. Chicken grew 12.7 percent in dollar sales to approximately $13.2 billion with volume sales up 8.3 percent. Turkey dollar sales also rose 12.5 percent to approximately $2.7 billion with volume sales up 5.3 percent.

In general, the poultry and meat category was one of the retail stars in terms of sales growth year over year. It also enjoyed consistently high numbers month over month and even week over week, says Chris DuBois, IRI’s senior vice president. Chicken and turkey were a large part of those gains, specifically with the ground format. During panic buying in the spring of 2020, dollar sales for meat and poultry were up 20 to 30 percent with volume in the mid-teens, DuBois says.

These numbers are not surprising, as people changed to working and dining at home.

“The biggest story of the year was the shift from foodservice to retail sales,” DuBois says. “Meat was one of the biggest beneficiaries, and chicken and turkey held strong throughout that.”

Not only would retail experience gains from the shift out of foodservice, but when shoppers were buying at the store, their baskets were higher, even though the absolute trips were down, DuBois says. In turn, consumers picked specific stores at which to shop and bought more product when there. Additionally, during the pandemic, meat and poultry e-commerce sales, whether delivery or store pick-up, have skyrocketed and grown much faster than total e-commerce sales.

“That to me is a big, big behavior change,” DuBois says. “Typically, we saw e-commerce sales up week over week well over 100 percent compared on 2019. E-commerce has come in a big way to the meat department.”

By Elizabeth Fuhrman

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