Canned meat, from Spam to corned beef sales are booming. It has its moment and the manufacturers are pleasantly surprised while few producers wondering what happened.
Demand for canned meat is global. In the United States, the sales grew by more than 70 percent in the 15 weeks to 13 June 2020. Consumption of canned corned beef has taken off in the United Kingdom too. These sales are expanding at the fastest rate ever.
During the lockdown, people were stocking up the pantry with staples and shelf-stable products. Hence, canned meat and fish were on top of the list because it can be stored up to 5 years from manufacture. Then, with panic buying and closure of many meatworks came the shortage of fresh meat. These challenges helped drive canned meat sales. Now, it is the economic conditions that is underpinning the appeal of corned beef.
Unemployment and reduced household income are now the obvious factors. Many people have been out of work due to the pandemic and the consumers are exploring ways to cut back on their grocery budgets. Hence, they are trading in fresh meat for canned alternatives. However, there is seems to be something deeper at stake. Maybe a return to ‘comfort food’ when times are tough.
Canned meat has been known for more than 80 years and maybe sometimes been frowned upon by the elites. For example, USA armed forces introduced Spam to South East Asia during the war. Hence, eating Spam was intensely ingrained in Filipino culture. It had become a staple. Spam has also got a cult following. Spam musubi is looked upon as a porky twist on sushi which is a famous snack food in Hawaii. In South Korea, Spam is eaten with steamed rice and kimchi. Whereas in the USA, sliced fried Spam with eggs is a breakfast treat and tinned corned beef served with potatoes and fried onions are loved in the United Kingdom
Sales are growing at a rapid rate ‘all over’. This includes Germany, Greece, Japan, Singapore, the USA, and United Kingdom. Tulip Pork luncheon meat that is sold in 120 markets is expecting a sales growth of more than 25 percent. The Brazilian giant beef producer is expecting a similar sales growth in its Uruguay operations which provides corned beef to the USA market. Product sales are expecting to be reaching a high of 3,500 metric tons this year. It is almost doubling the 2019 sales when they sold almost 1,800 metric tons.
America’s largest livestock slaughterhouses were forced to close earlier this year due to coronavirus outbreaks because thousands of workers falling sick. Hence, a huge increase in USA meat prices is turning consumers to canned options. These incidents have caused beef prices to almost double in recent times. While canned corned beef was filling the gaps, now, consumers are returning to the old staple. In the USA there is not a supermarket that does not stock corned beef. It is a product everyone knows now.
USA canned meat sales may be slowing down now, however, they are well above 2019 sales. Spam sales growth was happening in the past few years, however, nothing like the increase in a pandemic. Maybe, one good outcome of the coronavirus outbreak is reviving the canned food industry