Consumers Clamor for Canned Foods

Sales jumped more than 70% during the 15-week period of the pandemic lockdown.

July 30, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Canned food sales are booming across the world in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, including sales of meat and poultry products, which had been declining for decades, according to

Panic purchasing of long-shelf life pantry products has made canned meat and poultry products attractive. Under normal conditions, canned products can be safely stored at room temperature indefinitely.

U.S. sales of canned meat during the 15-week period ended June 13, 2020, were up more than 70%, according to Bloomberg. They have slowed since then, but many analysts expect sales to pick up as summertime grilling winds down and the economy slows.

Canning technology dates to the late 18th century in France, but canned meat became popular during the world wars. It was a portable protein for troops and well-priced for families growing victory gardens. But acceptance faded over the years as consumers found fresh, less processed meats readily available. 

Today, the convenience factor keeps canned meat relevant with campers, while products like Spam have a cult-like following. In fact, Spam fans started stocking up at the onset of the pandemic, resulting in many stores running out of stock.

Amid an uncertain future, there’s opportunity for cooks to get creative with canned meats. Any meat and seasoning combination is readily canned—think buffalo chicken and teriyaki beef—and the product can be served on a sandwich or in all types of entrees, such as pasta, pot pies, casseroles and comfort foods.

Embracing the current canned meat trend, Hormel is rolling out two new chili varieties: Chili Cheese and Coney Island. Both are formulated to have a thicker consistency, making them ideal as hot dog toppings.

“Consumers love chili dogs,” said Sarah Johnson, brand manager, Hormel. “While usage spikes in the summer, we know consumers enjoy chili dogs year-round. Our new pour over chilis provide consumers a convenient, exciting and great-tasting option to upgrade their daily meal routine.”

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.