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Surprisingly, it was a bad month for turkey. Whole bird turkey sales were down compared to year-ago levels by 4.4% in dollars and 5.2% in pounds.

Category update: Thanksgiving didn’t rescue grocery

November was another slow month across the board

Consumers were still holding back when it comes to at-home food purchases in the month of November, with noticeable declines in some sections even despite the Thanksgiving holiday, according to a monthly category report from 210 Analytics, with data provided by Circana, and Kansas State University.

Kansas State’s monthly tracker showed a decrease in Willingness-to-pay for all five beef, pork, and chicken items. However, the share of lunch and dinner consumed at home increased in November as compared to October. The tracker also found only 15% of household finances are better than last year, leading to an ongoing emphasis on price in the purchase decision.

Turkey can’t lift meat sales

Surprisingly, it was a bad month for turkey. Whole bird turkey sales were down compared to year-ago levels by 4.4% in dollars and 5.2% in pounds. Turkey breasts (-0.5% in dollars and 12.3% in pounds) and turkey legs (-2.4% in dollars and -3.6% in pounds) were both down year-over-year. Ground turkey (+3.6% in dollars and +2.6% in pounds) and turkey wings (+1.6% in dollars and +2.4% in pounds) were up compared to 2022.

Ham is another big seller during the holiday season but smoked ham, boneless, and semi boneless all showed year-over-year declines in both dollars and pounds.

Total meat sales dropped 0.7% in dollars and 3.4% in pounds vs. November 2022. Processed meat decreased 3.1% in dollars and 2.1% in pounds year-over-year, while fresh meat recorded a slight increase in dollars (0.6%) but a decline in pounds (-3.8%).

Prepared meats lead deli

Deli-prepared foods increased slightly at 0.5% units sold and 0.9% in total dollars in November, but the rest of the deli sector struggled. Total sales for deli-prepared foods were $1.9 billion.

Prepared meats were the big winner with a 6.2% year-over-year increase in units sold and a 5.5% bump in total dollars.  

However, deli meat, deli cheese, and deli entertaining were all in the red compared to November 2022 in both units sold and dollars.

Led by center store bakery (up slightly at 0.6% in total dollars but down 2.6% in units), bakery as a whole showed a 0.2% increase in total dollars in November. Units, however, were down 2.5% year-over-year. 

The leading category came in perimeter bakery as buns and rolls registered a 10.6% increase in total dollars and a 1.8% increase in units sold. Donuts (+8.7% in dollars and +2.7% in units) also performed well in November.

Dairy received a 0.1% bump in units sold compared to November 2022, but total dollars dipped 5.1%. Cottage cheese was the big seller with a 15.4% year-over-year increase in total dollar and a 14% rise in units sold.

It’s a melon kinda world

Fresh fruit fared better than other major categories for the month of November. Fruit showed a 5% increase in total dollar year-over-year and a 0.5% increase in units sold. 

Melons led the way with a 28.1% increase in total pounds year-over-year and a 13.4% rise in total dollars. Pineapples (+9% in pounds, +6.5% in dollars), mandarins (+6.5%, +8.7%), mixed fruit (+4.1%, +4%), grapes (+14.6% in dollars), and berries (+10.6% in dollars) also performed well last month.

Fresh vegetables, however, did not experience much success as the category was down 2.9% in dollars and 0.8% in volume year-over-year. Carrots (+0.8% in pounds, +5.7% in dollars) and peppers (+1%, +0.6%) topped the list.

Seafood still in decline

Seafood continued its yearly struggle in November as fresh seafood (-5.7% in dollars, -3.3% in pounds) and frozen seafood (-10.9%, -9.7%) showed significant year-over-year declines. Shelf-stable seafood, however, experienced a 43.6% spike in pounds vs. November 2022, but dollar sales dropped 3%.

Fresh shellfish was the only major sector that recorded a year-over-year increase—3% in pounds sold. Diving a little deeper, frozen processed meat/poultry went up 1.7% in units sold.

Cod was the top-selling species in the fresh department (+2.7% in dollars year-over-year, +13.6% in pounds) while salmon was No. 1 in frozen (+2.1%, +10.7%).

A familiar leader

Potatoes continue to be king in the frozen food section. Plain potatoes were up 44.6% in total units and 43.6% in total pounds year-over-year in November. Adding to the momentum were hashbrowns, which were up 9.7% in total units and 7.6% in pounds.

As a whole, fruits and vegetables, desserts, and processed meats were the only positive sellers for the month in frozen foods. Fruits and vegetables showed a 6% year-over-year increase in total dollars (-3.8% in units). Processed meats had a 1.7% increase in units (-3.1% in total dollars), and desserts experienced a 0.8% bump in total dollars (-2.2% in units).

In addition to potatoes performing well last month in frozen, fruit (+2.3% units, +4.3% in pounds), onions (+7%, +7.7%), and carrots (+7.2%, +6.1%) finished in the positive.

Alt-meats takes another hit

Frozen meat and poultry alternatives reached sales of $51.8 million in November but there was only one category showing year-over-year gains—ingredient cut substitutes (+7.3% in dollars, +2.9% in volume). Dollar sales were down 7.7% and unit sales dropped 12.2%.


Thanksgiving failed to rescue food sales, as for the most part sales were down in every category in November. Do you think Christmas will give grocery a boost? 
Let us know in the comments below, or email your thoughts to the SN staff at [email protected]. Be sure to include your full name and work title. And have a great day.




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