Cook-off wars: 4th of July shopping to see a rise in plant-based meat alternatives and international flavors

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages  / Brian Leatart
©GettyImages / Brian Leatart

Related tags: Holiday season, Ketchup, Mustard, plant-based meat, Beef, condiments

As 86% of Americans are expected to be celebrating the Fourth of July this year, a recent survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that consumers will spend approximately $6.78bn on food items for the holiday with a new emphasis on plant-based meat alternatives (according to Nielsen sales data*).

Cookouts and barbecues will be the most popular way to spend the Fourth of July with 61% of consumer planning to celebrate this way spending an average of $73.33 per person, according to NRF's survey​. Breaking it down by age and gender, 86% of men and 85% of women polled that they will be celebrating the Fourth of July spending $78.68 and $68.20 per person, respectively.

Taking a deeper look into what consumers are spending their dollars on, plant-based meat alternatives and exotic condiments are likely to see increased dollar sales growth, according to Nielsen sales data provided to FoodNavigator-USA.

"Building on last year’s sales trends during the week of July 4th, we believe that the staple-swap out trend will reach new heights this summer,"​ Nielsen said. 

'The summer of alternatives'

"The Fourth of July has historically been one of the biggest days for beer, hot dog and burger consumption, but a word of caution to anchor brands: watch your back. The stage has been set for alternative options to crash this year’s party,​" said Nielsen. "An appetite for plant-based meat alternatives has emerged."

The food items to see the highest increased sales this year will be plant-based meat alternatives, which will surpass animal protein products in terms of dollar sales growth, predicts Nielsen. Last year, Americans spent $10m on fully cooked plant-based meat alternatives (+19.4% compared to 2017) and $315m on fresh plant-based meat alternatives. (+11.2%). 

By comparison, Americans purchased $631m worth of fresh beef (+2.1% vs a year ago) and $19m worth of fully cooked beef (+5.7%). Consumers spent $100m on hot dogs/frankfurters (+3.1%) and $124 Million on dinner sausages (+1.6% )

Diversified condiments

According to Nielsen, variety in condiments will take hold this summer extending beyond traditional ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Among these mainstay condiments, "ketchup won the condiments war by a landslide."​ Consumers spent $21m on ketchup (+5.9% vs a year ago) versus $12m on mustard, which experienced a -2.7% decrease in dollar sales compared to the same time period a year ago. 

"The condiment category should brace for disruption,"​ said Nielsen. 

One example of a Latin-inspired condiment is Kumana​, a brand of avocado-based sauces used traditionally on grilled meats. 


Condiments that cater to Asian and Latino flavor profiles saw notable growth during this holiday week last year, according to Nielsen with Asian condiments netting +18% dollar sales growth and Latino condiments seeing 8.2% growth.     

* Total US xAOC (all outlets combined); 1 week (ending 7.7.18)

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