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2021 Poultry Report – Poultry Prospers During The Pandemic

Ground turkey and Chicken Dark Meat do particularly well as consumers turn to dining at home.


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 food service, 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.”

Category Growth Drivers – As far as particular cuts, chicken dark meat, especially boneless thighs, has performed particularly well.


During the pandemic, meat and poultry from the grind has done extremely well, with poultry experiencing double-digit sales performance. Ground chicken is up 22 percent in dollar sales and 18.7 percent in volume sales. Ground turkey, which comprises about 56 percent of turkey sales, is up 15.3 percent in dollar sales and 12 percent in volume, IRI reports.
Ground poultry continues to be popular because it fits into many different recipes, and consumers can use it in a wide variety of ways, DuBois adds. As far as particular cuts, chicken dark meat, especially boneless thighs, has performed particularly well. While the United States has historically consumed more white-meat boneless breasts than other nations globally, international trends around dark meat are moving into the U.S. poultry market. “Frankly, boneless thighs have been just an amazing product, and you can see the adoption throughout a lot of different households,” DuBois says. “So, it’s almost a change now from white meat to dark meat, and that’s been one of the biggest changes in the case. Not all manufacturers have that kind of capability to produce those kinds of cuts at scale, so this is a big deal for the retailers who can get it at the right price and quantity.”
While chicken wings have traditionally performed well and have experienced double-digit growth during the pandemic, turkey wings also are growing in popularity and are up more than 20 percent in dollar sales. Turkey wing dollar and volume sales also grew faster than the total turkey category, IRI reports. Additionally, turkey legs were up 16 percent in dollar sales and about 9 percent in volume.
“It’s a big enough category to matter, and it became something of a novelty that turned into a really nice product line for a lot of retailers that offered those different cuts,” DuBois says.

Looking into 2021

To keep the industry growing, turkey manufacturers will need to continue to make turkey more accessible to consumers during a midweek basis. Making it easier to cook, clean up, and prepare will be key, DuBois says.
“The big key to unlocking it is just trying to find a way to make some of these smaller cuts or smaller breasts or legs much more accessible to consumers,” DuBois says. “I would call it increasing the confidence of the at-home chef is the key.”
With chicken, retailers will continue to push dark-meat sales. “What we are seeing right now is, dark meat is really that engine of growth in the chicken case, and I expect retailers to continue to shift more and more space to that,” DuBois says. “I expect a lot more innovative cuts like the boneless thighs to become just part of what a manufacturer offers.”
Going forward, snacking also will be an important area for growth. For example, meat snacks like jerky grew an additional 10 percent in sales in 2020, and poultry brands have an opportunity to increase consumption frequency and increase daily usage by riding the snacking wave, Mintel’s Kamp says. Bite-size products accompanied with a dipping sauce also are growing, with brands such as Foster Farms and FarmRich creating snackable chicken products, Kamp says.
Manufacturers also will continue to offer more turkey and chicken products into different dayparts, such as breakfast, along with improving products already in the category, DuBois adds.

Courtesy of The National Provisioner /  Written by Elizabeth Fuhrman, contributing writer. All Rights Reserved BNP Media// You can read the full article here:

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