salmon, fish, seafood

Meat, Poultry & Seafood

Meat Sales Soared in 2020, as Processors Tried to Keep Up with Demand


First, the good news: the top two foods among all frozen categories in terms of YOY dollar growth were seafood (+35.3%) and poultry (+34%), at $6.8 billion, and $6 billion in sales, respectively, according to the AFFI/IRI Power of Frozen report. All frozen meats combined accounted for $16.1 billion, compared to $10.7 billion in 2019.

Now, the not so good news: in order to keep up with record demand, some meat processors were lax in monitoring the health of their employees during the peak of the pandemic, leading to plant shutdowns, hiccups in the supply chain, and in one highly publicized case, the dismissal of management at one factory for wagering how many frontline workers would contract COVID-19. No doubt these stories are giving companies that process plant- and cell-based meats plenty of PR fuel as they try to gain market share.

Speaking of alternative proteins, the AFFI/IRI report details which generations are most interested in plant-based meats: younger millennials top the demographics at 56% among their generational peers, followed by older millennials (53%), Gen Z (50%), Gen X (45%) and baby boomers (22%).

Significant Events in 2020

  • Dennis Organ was named president & CEO of Smithfield Foods, and subsequently appointed 16 others to his executive leadership team.
  • Butterball promoted Neal Walsh to COO, Bill Folk to VP of operations, and Darrell Bradfield to director of corporate safety, health and security. Butterball also announced an $8.7 million investment in two of its Arkansas processing plants. Finally, former Butterball CEO Kerry Doughty passed away after a battle with cancer.
  • President & CEO Jim Walstrom of Morey’s Seafood left the company after 26 years.
  • Wayne Farms launched a line of frozen chicken breast products called Chef’s Craft, sold at 2,400 Walmarts and more than 1,000 Food Lion stores.
  • Foster Farms debuted a line of frozen pizzas called Smart Crust, featuring a chicken breast-based crust.


sold $1.5 billion in 2020, according to NFRA/Nielsen statistics. Meanwhile, frozen ground beef patties sold $1 billion.

Lead image courtesy of Pixabay. Above photo courtesy of Pixabay.