What Natural Shoppers Are Buying for the BBQ: 4 Data-Backed Shopper Trends for Grilling Season

The 4th of July is here, which means we have hit peak grilling season. This year the BBQs might not have many--or any—guests or they might take place on an indoor grill instead. But if Memorial Day was any indication, Americans will be enjoying their favorite summer foods and activities this week. (And if you’re a Chicagoan, you’re still not putting ketchup on your hot dog—even if it is all natural.)

We looked at data leading up to Memorial Day to see how shoppers were adapting their summer holidays to 2020’s unusual circumstances. We found 4 trends you can expect to see as shoppers prepare for the 4th of July:

Plant-based Is Popular

 Shoppers continue to focus on high-protein diets and make the switch to more plant-based meals, with meat alternatives selling well across the board both in week-over-week and year-over-year sales. While frozen and refrigerated traditional hot dogs and hamburgers still led in sales, plant-based showed more aggressive growth. Compared to 2019, refrigerated plant-based meat grounds frozen plant-based sausage links grew substantially. Not only did refrigerated plant-based hot dogs see significantly more growth than traditional hot dogs, but frozen plant-based hot dogs also gained popularity.

Condiments Get More Love

You can’t have a successful cookout without great condiments, and consumers are giving more attention to what they put on their favorite dishes so they don’t stray from their dietary lifestyles. Several natural condiment categories were up year over year: paleo (37%), 95%-100% organic (36%), keto (31%), and certified non-GMO (27%).

Refrigerated condiments also saw significant increases compared to 2019: Refrigerated pickled and marinated vegetables grew 89%, refrigerated relish and other condiments were up almost 53%, and refrigerated pickles rose 39%.

Can-do Attitude

 We know comfort food has been popular during the pandemic, and during Memorial Day shoppers reached for two ingredients that instantly improve any BBQ: tomatoes and beans. Canned beans and tomatoes were both up year over year. For canned tomatoes, Natural Products Industry SKUs led growth over conventional (44% vs 33%), suggesting shoppers prioritized both quality and nutrition in their choices. The popularity of both items indicates shoppers are still making classic BBQ dishes and on the hunt for the best ingredients to include.

It’s 5 o’clock Everywhere

Cold beers and refreshing cocktails are part of summer, and with many restaurants and bars still closed, shoppers have taken the initiative to invest in their home bars. Almost every alcohol category grew year over year—but month-over-month data shows even more aggressive growth. Dollar sales for malt liquor grew 197% compared to the same period last year, mixers rose 75%, distilled spirits and liquors were up 71%, and alcoholic cocktails were close with a 67% increase. Looking at a 4-week period ending in May, some alcohol categories had substantial growth: mixers (560%), hard cider and perry (542%) beer (530%), and wine (435%). Expect consumers to restock their bars with their favorite ingredients for the long weekend.

Back in May, shoppers were not going to let lockdown ruin the official kickoff to summer, and now that the weather is even warmer, expect them to grab even more items for their 4th of July BBQ.

If you’re interested in how SPINS can help provide dynamic data, actionable insights, and digital activation solutions that drive growth, contact us today.