Meat department sales reached $6.3 billion in March 2022, up 6.2% versus a year ago.

Discounting rising inflation, retailers moved 2.4% more pounds in March 2022 than in March of 2019 (the pre-pandemic normal), according to IRI data compiled by Anne-Marie Roerink, President of 210 Analytics LLC.

While pound sales were down versus a year ago by 6.2%, they still exceed March 2019 levels by 2.4%. Dollars have consistently exceeded 2020 levels by 20% to 26%.

The average price per pound in the meat department across all cuts and kinds (fixed and random weight) was $4.45 in March 2022, up 13.2% compared with March 2021. IRI Research suggests inflation is a little milder when looking at the full 52 weeks ending March 27, 2022, with an average price per pound of $4.18, up 9%. Inflation in processed meat, which had been lower than fresh, rose to 18.8% in March versus a year ago.

Fresh beef and pork posted double-digit increases over the past 52 weeks ending March 27, 2022, with fresh beef prices averaging $5.97/pound (up 10%) and fresh pork averaging $3.15/pound (up 10.4%).

Fresh chicken prices were up 8.5%, with prices averaging $2.67/pound, and turkey prices averaged $2.32/pound, an increase of 5.4%.

March 2022 processed meat sales dollars grew compared with 2021 by 6.7%, with bacon prices jumping 15.4% at an average price of $6.45/pound. Packaged lunchmeat prices averaged $5.07/pound (up 5.4%) and dinner sausage prices averaged $4.09 per pound (up7.4%).

Grinds posted continued strong performance in March 2022, with ground beef sales reaching $890 million (13.4% versus year ago even though volume fell more than 3% versus March 2021). Pork and turkey likewise had strong March performances, with year-on-year volume gains in addition to double-digit dollar gains.

According to Roerink’s research, price inflation is spurring shoppers to employ money-saving measures, with nearly three-quarters (72%) of consumers reporting money-saving strategies:

  • 17% of consumers are visiting multiple stores to find the best deals
  • 48% of consumers are looking for sales promotions (although frequency of promotions and the depth of the discounts are down significantly versus pre-pandemic rates)
  • 36% are cutting back on non-essentials
  • 30% looking for coupons
  • 25% are buying less overall
  • 21% are switching to private-label alternatives.