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According to Circana, almost 60% of food and beverage dollars have been spent at the retail level. However, consumer spending is still in inflation mode at the grocery store.

Category update: Seafood on the decline

And unit sales of frozen have returned to pre-pandemic levels

Even though the price per unit on all foods and beverages increased 2.5% in October, shoppers still prefer to eat at home vs. at a restaurant.

According to Circana, almost 60% of food and beverage dollars have been spent at the retail level. However, consumer spending is still in inflation mode at the grocery store. A Circana survey revealed 83% of shoppers have made one or more changes to their grocery shopping habits — 55% look for specials more often and 45% are cutting back on non-essentials.

Seafood on the decline

Seafood prices for fresh and shelf-stable seafood were down in October while the price for frozen seafood was up 1.3% year-over-year but still below average. However, fresh and frozen seafood volume sold was down in October 2023 compared to October 2022.

In the ambient seafood category, tuna in cans and pouches led all categories in October 2023. Pound sales were up 13.4% year-over-year and total sales came in at $145 million. Sardines pound sales increase 9.9% vs. October 2022.

Finfish was king for fresh seafood with total sales of $265 million but dollar and pound sales were down in all fresh categories. Shellfish sales decreased 14.1% year-over-year.

For frozen seafood, shellfish (mostly raw and cooked shrimp) led the way in October with $265 million in sales. But similar to fresh seafood, dollar and pound sales were down vs. October 2022. Shellfish dollar sales dropped 12.7% year-over-year and pound sales fell 18%.

Back to pre-pandemic levels

Unit sales of frozen foods have returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to Circana, and processed meat (up 4.3%) and potatoes/onions (up 3.4%) were the only categories showing year-over-year gains in units sold.

As for frozen fruit and vegetables, fries, fruit, and mixed vegetables led the way. Fries racked up $157 million in sales in October but year-over-year unit sales were down 0.3% while dollar sales were up 20.3%. Meanwhile, fruit tallied a total of $131 million in sales and experienced increases in both dollar sales (10.3%) and unit sales (3.4%).

In other notables, plain potatoes dollar sales were up over 106% year-over-year and unit sales were up 61%. Prepared vegetables suffered a 34.3% decline in sales and a 51.5% drop in unit sales vs. October 2022.

Some price deflation in meat

Results in the meat department were mixed in October, but year-over-year price deflation was observed for lamb, packaged lunch meat, breakfast sausage, and processed chicken. Beef saw continued inflation, while chicken prices continued to be on the downswing.

Year-over-year unit sales for meat were down 3.8%. Chicken was the only fresh category that showed an increase in unit sales for October 2023 at 0.2% and finished second ($1.2 billion) behind fresh meat ($2.4 billion) in total dollar sales.

Every category in processed meats were down in terms of dollar and unit volume in October 2023. Packaged lunch meat was the top seller at $477 billion.

The results for grinds were much better, as ground chicken showed year-over-year increases in dollar sales (up 8.3%) and pound sales (up 12%).

Everybody wants pie

For bakery, deli, and dairy, bakery prices were up 4.1% year-over-year while dairy prices were down 4.6%. Deli prices stayed relatively stable compared to October 2023 (1% increase).

Cottage cheese led the dairy category with a dollar sale year-over-year increase of 15% and unit increase of 13.8%. Desserts, on the other hand, suffered a 9.4% dip in unit sales.

In the deli department, unit sale decreases were seen in virtually all categories, with deli meat suffering a 4.9% year-over-year drop. Deli prepared meats were up 0.1%.

Soups and chili unit sales were up 11.2% year-over-year while combo meats unit sales were down 31.3%.

In center store bakery, pies were the unit sales leader with a 7% year-over-year increase. On the flip side, wraps and flatbreads were down 12.3%.

Pies also produced the largest unit sales year-over-year increase in perimeter bakery (3.9%) with donuts close behind in second (3.5%).

Melon explosion

Fruit prices were up 4.3% in October 2023 compared to 2022, but vegetable prices remained flat. However, despite the price increase, fruit volume sales were up 1.1% year-over-year.

Berries, grapes, and apples led the fresh fruit category in October. Dollar sales for berries increased 7.9% year-over-year and pounds were up 1%. Melons experienced a 18.4% year-over-year increase in dollar sales and a 25.2% increase in pounds.

A plant-based drop

Combined refrigerated and frozen plant-based meat alternatives generated $74.4 million in October 2023, a 12.1% year-over-year decrease.

October sales for refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives were down 20.9% and pound sales were down 26.5%. Ingredient cut substitutes was the only section recording an increase in dollar sales (9.8%) and volume sales (5.5%).

Dollars, units, and pounds were down for frozen meat alternatives in October.




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