Easter Outlook: What We Know & What To Do - Pork Checkoff

Easter Outlook: What We Know & What To Do

The clock is ticking down as Easter 2021 quickly approaches and many retailers might be wondering, “What should I expect?”

  • Will family gatherings mirror 2020: smaller, at-home shared meals?
  • Will consumers venture toward dining out in regions where foodservice is reopening?
  • Will there be a hybrid outcome somewhere in between?

What We Know

Pork cold storage is tight. December 2020 inventories were 29.6% below prior-year levels and notched eight consecutive months of lower stocks. Plus, consider that hams, the iconic Easter table anchor, are down 37.6% and food retailers might need to reconsider what pork offering they will highlight in marketing programs.

Gatherings will continue to be smaller. A pandemic might throw a wrench in family gathering routines, but it’s not a game-ender. The data shows that 42% of consumers plan to see less people this Easter than in pre-pandemic years. But despite a projected per-household decrease in food spending, the increase in overall gatherings could outweigh the smaller gathering sizes. 

Consumers want normalcy. During unpredictable times, shoppers revert to nostalgia and traditions. It was evident throughout the 2020 holidays. Last year, smoked ham sales were up 85% over the prior year in the week leading up to Easter. Plus, pork overall saw a spike with new households and users. Add in the optimism data that consumer believe Easter will experience less COVID-19 impact, and retailers might expect an even better 2021 Easter. 

With less than 40 days ‘til go-time, many food retailers’ plans have been set. But it’s worth recognizing key insights to optimize promotions and tactics leading up to Easter weekend.

What To Do

Keep offering variety. From the big bone-in spiral to a smaller boneless option, ham can be marketed to a variety of preferences. Flavorful punches like bacon-crusted or brown sugar-coated options let consumers spice up their Easter dinner. Smaller cuts, value-sized packages, and canned or diced options are also important to consider, especially for younger consumers. 

Boost creativity. Level up your brand experiences and use social media to help consumers understand pork’s place in the Easter holiday. Ham prep and cooking can look really different from home to home. From the oven to the grill to the crockpot, inspire shoppers with creative recipes and allow them a chance to experiment with a new cooking method on a potentially smaller audience. Help shoppers imagine producing the best pandemic holiday meal experience. 

 → Educate and engage. Make your content and promotions noteworthy.  After nearly a year of more at-home meals, consumers are facing cooking fatigue and you can be their guide. Use resources, like those from the National Pork Board, to help those consumers get out of their kitchen funk. Plus, if you can help shoppers stretch dollars, they will look to you more in the future for guidance on deals and cooking suggestions. Produce value-add content that positions you as a go-to source of information.

Promote the whole pork portfolio. Although smaller, family gatherings will still occur. And a holiday with guests means meal planning across multiple days. Bacon and sausage purchases go hand-in-hand with a homemade holiday brunch, especially when dining out options are limited. Think outside the central Easter spread and how you can support more at-home meals over the holiday weekend.

Last year taught us that Easter can still be an opportunity for pork growth despite an ongoing pandemic. Take lessons learned and think creatively on how you can use pork to set yourself up for success.