Expect Less Traditional July 4th Fare

Meatless meat and hard seltzer will appear on the picnic table.

July 02, 2019

NEW YORK—Independence Day has historically been one of the biggest days of the year for beer, hot dog and burger consumption, but the stage has been set for alternative options to crash this year’s party, according to Nielsen.

Shifting eating and drinking habits, impacted by consumers’ evolving tastes and demands for wellness and convenience, will be important this July 4th. The consumer research organization details what was purchased last year compared with the coming Independence Day celebration.

Burger or hotdog?

  • Beef: Americans purchased $631 million worth of fresh beef (+2.1% vs a year ago) and $19 million worth of fully cooked beef (+5.7%).
  • Hot Dogs + Sausages: Consumers spent $100 million on hot dogs/frankfurters (+3.1%) and $124 million on dinner sausages (+1.6%).
However, an appetite for plant-based meat alternatives has emerged.
  • Meat Alternatives: Americans spent $10 million on fully cooked, plant-based meat alternatives (+19.4%); and $315,000 on fresh, plant-based meat alternatives (+11.2%). 
  • Sustainability matters: 61% of consumers said they’d be willing to reduce meat consumption to alter livestock’s impact on climate change.
Ketchup or mustard? When it comes to condiments, consumers voted with their wallets.
  • Ketchup + Mustard: Consumers spent $21 million on ketchup (+5.9% vs a year ago) versus $12 million on mustard, which saw a -2.7% decrease in dollar sales compared with the same time period a year ago. 
  • Condiments that cater to Asian and Latino flavor profiles experienced notable growth during this holiday week; with Asian condiments netting +18% dollar sales growth and Latino condiments seeing 8.2% growth.     
Beer saw weaker sales while hard seltzer saw significant growth:
  • Beer: Consumers spent nearly $800 million on beer, a huge total, but a decline of -1.6% from the same week a year before.
    • Domestic premium beer sold -5.9% fewer dollars than the year before, but the July 4 week still accounted for 2.9% of dollar sales for the year, making it the largest contributing week of the year.
  • Craft Beer: Craft beer struggled last year during the 4th of July holiday week, seeing dollars sales down -2.5% compared with the previous year.
The 4th of July holiday is shifting beyond beer. The July 4th week proved to be particularly valuable for flavored malt beverages/coolers. Not only did dollar sales grow +12.1% compared with the year before, but the one week of July 4 contributed more than 4% of FMB/cooler dollar sales for the year
  • Hard cider: This category saw dollar sales of $9,384,000, growing +8.5% for the week of July 4th, driven largely by the influx of rosé cider offerings.
  • Hard seltzers: Hard Seltzers brought sizeable growth to the FMB/cooler category during the week of July 4th. On their own, hard seltzer dollar sales were $16, million, an increase of +150% (+300% for variety hard seltzer packs). Interestingly, if you remove hard seltzers from FMB/coolers, dollar sales for the week of July 4th, the category would show a significant -9.5% decline. 
  • Canned wine: Dollar sales for canned wine during the week of July 4th were $2,758,000, growing +56.5% in 2018, compared with the previous year when dollar sales during that week alone accounting for nearly 4% of 2018’s total canned wine dollar sales.

“Canned wine and the 4th of July is an easy marriage,” said Caitlyn Battaglia, manager, Beverage Alcohol, Nielsen. “The convenient can container makes bringing wine to outdoor events often associated with the July 4 holiday—and summer in general—much easier and more accessible than the traditional glass bottle. The can has also proven to be an excellent vehicle for keeping up with consumer trends. In 2017, we saw a noticeable shift towards pink wine in cans, aligning with the broader rosé trend that has permeated alcohol.”

Other important necessities for an enjoyable holiday in the great outdoors are sunscreen and bug spray.

  • Sunscreen
    • 1 week, for week ending 7/7/18: $74,942,000; +11.5% year over year
      • Traditional branded: $300,495,000; +5.1% year over year
      • Private label: $58,480,000; +1.6% year over year
  • Bug spray (insect repellent)
    • 1 week, for week ending 7/7/18: $29,082,000; +7.2% year over year
    • Private label experiencing huge growth but taking a much smaller piece of the pie. (13 weeks, for week ending 9/29/18, includes July 4)
      • Traditional branded: $152,056,000; +2.4% year over year
      • Private label: $8,491,000; +236.4% year over year