DENVER — Spurred in part by Beef Checkoff Program promotions across the country, beef sales during 2007's grilling season topped the previous summer's sales, according to new data from FreshLook Marketing and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
Indeed, dollar sales of beef rose 1.5%, hitting $5.3 billion during the 17-week period from May to September 2007.
What's more, beef sales accounted for 55% of total fresh meat dollar sales, up 2% compared to the prior 17-week period.
“During the summer, consumers tend to zero in on popular grilling cuts and ground beef, and this shows retailers capitalized on a good season,” said Randy Irion, director of retail marketing for NCBA, which contracts to manage retail programs for the Beef Checkoff Program.
Beef's average price per pound was up more than 6% in May 2007 vs. May 2006, while chicken prices were up almost 12% and pork was up 4.4%.
However, as Irion noted during an earlier interview with SN, the small increase in dollar sales indicates that demand for beef remained stable this year, despite reduced supplies and higher prices.
The summer grilling season is a critical time for beef to gain incremental support from retailers, Irion said, and ad support from retailers was up significantly this year.
During the 17-week grilling season in 2007, ad features increased by 37% over 2006. And, for the 17 weeks prior to summer grilling season, beef ad features increased 21% over the same period in 2006. Grilling cuts represented 40% of “A” ads, an increase from 32% during the prior 17 weeks.
During grilling season 2007, grilling cuts accounted for $3.5 billion of the $5.3 billion in total beef sales. A total of 8.7 million pounds of grilling cuts were sold, averaging $4.02 per pound.
“The supply situation increases a little bit in summer, and that's an advantage,” Irion told SN.
The growth in total beef sales came largely from grilling cuts, which include popular steak cuts as well as ground beef. In fact, grilling cuts accounted for 66% of total beef dollar sales and 63% of total beef pound sales during the summer grilling time frame, up from 62% and 58%, respectively, compared to the previous 17 weeks.
Promotions in partnership with brands like Kraft and Sutter Home have been driving supermarket customers to the meat case and prompting them to choose grilling cuts or ground beef for several past seasons.
Kraft Foods' A.1. Steak Sauce and Marinades has been a summer grilling partner since the checkoff program's summer campaigns began in 2002. Irion said that tradition will continue in 2008, along with other companion promotions new for next season.
“The 2007 summer grilling season was very successful, and we have put together some new co-marketing partnerships for the 2008 campaign,” Irion said.
In 2008, A.1. Steak Sauce and Marinades will use in-store displays with coupons that invite customers to save $1 on beef with the purchase of A.1. Steak Sauce and Marinades.
And new for 2008 will be a promotion featuring Anheuser-Busch and A.1. together. The program will include continuously refreshed displays in supermarkets throughout the summer season, where shoppers can grab instant redeemable coupons for $2 off beef with the purchase of A.1. Steak Sauce and Marinades and, in selected markets, $3 off beef with the purchase of A.1. and Anheuser-Busch products. This promotion will include Michelob for Memorial Day, Budweiser Select for Fourth of July, and Budweiser and Bud Light for a tailgating theme in September.
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products.