Fresh Food

Grocers' Meat Sales, Volumes Off in April, But Not By as Much as March

Price per volume in meat increased vs. April 2020
grocery meat selection
Photograph: Shutterstock

More than a year after consumers and retailers alike first began seeing price spikes for meat, as pandemic-driven demand outstripped pandemic-strapped supplies, meat prices continue to rise, according to new data from market researcher IRI.

Price per volume for the meat department overall stood at $3.94 in April, up 4.9% from a year ago, Chicago-based IRI reported. Prices for fresh meat were up 5.1% year over year, including increases of 4.8% (to $5.57) for fresh beef and 5% (to $2.57) for fresh chicken.

As in March, meat sales in April couldn't keep pace with the year-ago period, with dollar sales for meat down 14.8% vs. April 2020. That's an improvement from March, though, when dollar sales were off 22.5% vs. the year-ago period. Further, dollar sales were higher than they were two years ago, up 15.4% from April 2019. 

Meat sales by volume were off by a larger amount, falling 18.8% in April vs. the year-ago period (after declining 25% year over year in March) and gaining only 2.3% vs. the April 2019 pre-pandemic baseline. 

IRI's April sales report arrived in a week that has also seen the release of the federal government's April consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI) reports. In April, the year-over-year price increases that consumers found at the grocery store moderated from those seen in March, while producer prices picked up. Year over year, producer prices in April were up 14.2% for beef, 25.6% for pork and 30.7% for chicken.

Other findings from IRI's report: Consumers are feeling more peace of mind about grocery shopping in-store, according to new survey data, with 66% of shoppers saying they felt relaxed during their most recent in-store visit, vs. 53% who said the same in January. In addition, plant-based meat alternatives continue their climb: Sales of plant-based meat grinds, which weren't even tracked two years ago, stood at $9 million in April, up more than 36% from a year ago. 

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