July 2021 marks the return to prior year sales levels for several areas of the store, including frozen, with all July weeks coming in close to $1.3 billion in sales for frozen food. While only two out of these four July weeks managed to post sales gains over the highly elevated 2020 levels, each week resulted in double-digit sales increases compared to the pre-pandemic 2019 baseline.
The rapid return to year-ago sales levels resulted in a few areas of the frozen food section outpacing 2020 sales. These include breakfast foods (+11.8%) and dinners/entrees (+4.3%), both sizeable categories. Other notable areas are frozen meat, up 2.7% over the high 2020 spikes and processed chicken (+10.4%). It appears that at least some consumers are shifting to frozen protein as the fresh meat department is dealing with significant inflation.
Source: IRI, Integrated Fresh, Total US, MULO
August will be an interesting test case relative to the normalization of the marketplace thus far in 2021 as the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is prompting an increase of new COVID-19 cases across the country. In the past few months, the normalization of shopping patterns including a return to in-store shopping, spending more time in the grocery store, as well as an increase of on-premise restaurant dining, has been largely driven by vaccinated Americans. The August sales and survey results relative to retail and food service sales will be interesting to watch as we close out the summer.
AFFI members are invited to take a deeper dive into the numbers and statistics by downloading our monthly Retail Market Insights reports brought to you in partnership with IRI and 210 Analytics.