According to USDA estimates, the average American eats around 2.5 pounds of meat every week. That’s 140 pounds of meat a year… more than every other country in the world.

When faced with news of meat processing plant closures around the country –  and a likely future shortage – many were expecting a race to the store and extreme buying habits similar to what we saw with toilet paper and hand sanitizer in March. To understand how news headlines impacted consumer behavior, we looked at the data from over 51 million households in the U.S..

Across the board, poultry, seafood and meat categories experienced a sales uptick, with one notable exception: fresh beef and pork. This category has experienced a mostly steady rank (based on consumer spend) for the past four weeks, with no measured increase.

We also didn’t experience a huge sales spike like in mid-March when stay-at-home orders began, but rather a steady 3-week increase. For the week ending May 16th, most meat categories maintained a higher rank than they experienced prior to plant closures, while fresh meat and poultry returned to previous numbers.

Perhaps this is because retailers have been better prepared and have limited quantities, or perhaps because of significant price increases seen across these categories.

For the first time this year, frozen seafood products were in the top 20 most purchased CPG items during the week ending May 9th. Consumers appear to be expanding the variety of protein items they purchase when prevented from stocking up on chicken, beef or pork.

Once society reaches a new normal, we have a feeling there might be a lot of freezers full of scallops and shrimp that no one knows what to do with.

Fresh and frozen meat, poultry and seafood categories are ranked by dollar sales from 4/18/20 to 5/16/20. Fresh seafood rank increased in May compared to others.