Meeting Consumers At The Holiday Dinner Table

The holidays always play an outsized role in businesses’ end-of-year marketing. For holiday marketing to remain most relevant, however, it needs to stay current with how consumers are celebrating. Looking back at this past Thanksgiving, these shifting trends are nowhere more evident than on the dinner plate, where turkey took a nose-dive.

Nielsen reports that sales in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) segment hit $17.3 billion during the week ending November 24, up almost one percent from the year before. Despite this growth, not all categories benefited equally. Beef sales during the week of Thanksgiving hit nearly $416 million, up seven percent from the same week in 2017, while turkey sales slipped a similar seven percent to $281 million as consumers’ protein preferences shifted. Chicken also declined over Thanksgiving while Nielsen registered meaningful upticks in sales of Cornish hens, ducks and goats as consumers opted for more unique holiday dinner options.

While Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the unofficial “cooking season,” prepared foods also registered a rise this year. Sales of prepared foods reached almost $918 million over the week of Thanksgiving, up four percent over 2017. Soups ($98 million, up three percent), prepared complete meals ($97 million, up six percent) and sides ($81 million, up one percent) posted the top sales during the week, while health and wellness attributes also proved especially popular. Nielsen’s data shows that sales for prepared foods were up three percent for those that claim to be gluten-free or to contain limited salt or sodium, up six percent for those that claim to be organic and nine percent for those that have natural or limited preservatives.

Thanksgiving 2018 wasn’t all change, however. It was a good week for sales of butter (up three percent) and lard (up 14 percent) as Americans rejected margarine, cooking sprays and substitute spreads, which all saw volume and dollar declines.

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