Retailers, take heart: supermarket sales of beef have been a bright spot during the recent economic downturn. While the media have recently focused on other proteins as food prices have increased and budgets have tightened, beef continues to lead fresh meat category sales.

November's numbers are a strong example of the current trend in beef sales. Beef sales accounted for 29.9% of total fresh meat pounds sold, while chicken made up 22.4% in November.

Research has shown that beef shoppers also consume chicken and pork. These three categories all work together to attract customers to the meat case and keep meat protein in the center of the plate. While beef, chicken and pork all experienced a decrease in total meat share of pounds sold in November to turkey, dollar and pound sales of beef were still at an all time high for November due to significant category growth.

The beef checkoff works with FreshLook Marketing sales and Promodata featuring data to identify consumer purchasing trends for beef and other fresh meat products at retail in the current economic climate. Retail dollar sales, pound sales, share data and price per pound have been collected for beef, chicken and pork over the last three years. Retail featuring information across all proteins is also collected to measure any changes.

Beef Sales

  • November meat dollar sales were up 2.3%, while pound sales were down 9.0% on a price increase of 12.3%.
  • Despite the economic downturn and the decrease in total meat pound sales, beef sales increased significantly.
    • Dollar sales jumped 14.3%
    • Pound sales climbed 11.7%
    • These numbers represent the strongest beef sales increase over the past three years in both dollars and pounds. This can be attributed to more consumers preparing beef at home instead of dining out, highlighting beef’s continued strong position in consumers’ meals.
  • Beef, chicken and pork each dropped their dollar share of total meat sales in November versus the previous month due to an increase in turkey’s share of dollar sales; a significant increase for turkey is typical in November due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Looking specifically at beef's share of total meat pound sales, it continued to lead the category. In November, beef pound sales accounted for 29.9% of total meat pound sales, up 5.5% compared to the same time frame year ago.
  • In November 2008, ground beef pound sales were up 12.5%, while dollar sales were up 20.0% Both ground beef and whole muscle cut performance provided the strength for the beef category, in that whole muscle cut sales also rose for both dollars (10.7%) and pounds (11.1%) during the same period.

To view the rest of the article and including graphs, link here.