Which Grocery Categories Are Performing Well?

Data from 210 Analytics and Circana shows recent strength in deli, meat and other departments
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Deli prepared foods
Deli prepared foods were a definite bright spot in grocery sales last month, new data indicates.

Fitting for a leap year, there was a noticeable lift in sales across many grocery departments in February, according to new research from 210 Analytics, LLC and Circana. The firms’ monthly category updates show gains in several segments, fueled by various factors.

Anne-Marie Roerink, president of San Antonio-based 210 Analytics, recapped the month and noted that consumers are “somewhat optimistic” about inflation easing and used some of their grocery budget on events like the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day. To the benefit of grocers, she added, people continued their at-home behaviors, as restaurant engagement fell in February and the share of home-cooked meals as a percentage of all meals rose to a healthy 79.1% in that time span.

[RELATED: Seafood Consumption Is Down, But More Consumers Are Eating It at Home]

Performances were notable across several categories, the data affirms:

  • It was a “very strong” February for the deli department, as unit sales of deli prepared foods grew 4.1% to reach $2.3 billion. All segments within the category went up, except for deli meat, which experienced a slight 1.8% decrease in sales. Dollar sales tied to entertaining solutions in the deli rose 4.4%, propelled by Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day occasions. 
  • Bakery sales, spanning fixed and random weight items as well as products in the bakery aisle and fresh perimeter bakery, rang up $3.7 billion last month, with sales holding steady compared to last year. 
  • The meat department remains on a roll following a robust January, with dollar sales up 1.7% on a year-over-year (YoY) basis to hit $7.5 billion. Fresh meat sales climbed 3.6%, while processed meat sales slid 2.5% in February. Interestingly, according to the research, Valentine's Day didn’t lead to elevated fresh meat sales, as it did in the seafood category.
  • Fresh produce likewise had a solid month, ringing up $6.9 billion. Units rose 1.2%, attributed to above-average performance for fresh fruit. The data from 210 Analytics and Circana also revealed a shift back to larger pack sizes, especially in commodities with a longer shelf life. Fruits and vegetables outperformed other types of produce, including frozen and shelf stable varieties. Within the category, top fruit sellers included berries, apples and grapes and main movers in vegetables were tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce and salad kits.
  • Frozen foods generated $6.6 billion in February, led by frozen meals and desserts. Other segments in the category experienced gains, including frozen novelties, fruit, seafood and processed meats. Unit sales of frozen seafood went up, although deflationary conditions put a dent in dollar sales.

One category that didn’t fare as well in February was refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives. Sales of those items are down 15.5% versus a year ago, marking a second year of declines.

Next, Roerink will present the findings from the 2024 "Power of Meat" study at the Annual Meat Conference (AMC), held March 18-20 in Nashville. The Power of Meat report was conducted by 210 Analytics and published by the FMI - The Food Industry Association and the Meat Institute’s Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education.

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