By: Lucas Darnell, Director of Membership, Food Marketing Institute
Lucas Darnell FMI Resident Pitmaster

As May turns the corner into June, folks around the country clean their grills and start their fires. Its barbecue season!

The weather draws us outside for family meals, get-togethers and good times. But grilling season also is important to the grocery industry—a great opportunity to increase basket size. The numbers speak for themselves.

According to Smithfield, Inc., 96 percent of consumers say they enjoy barbecue. The demand for BBQ continues to grow as evident by the increase use and purchase of grills and smokers, rise in online searches for grilling recipes and the expanding number of television programs focused on cooking outdoors.

Grilling displays are popping up in stores all across the country, and for good reason. The grocery industry is positioned to win the grilling basket throughout the entire year. Barbecue cuts of meat are growing 10 times faster than the total fresh meat category as a whole.  

As we get into the summer holidays such as Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day, food retailers have great leverage to cross promote products and increase basket size. Those are the top three grilling occasions for the year. According to Kingsford, 63 percent of the U.S. population is active grillers, and 63 percent of grill owners cook outside year round.

As pitmaster of Old Virginia Smoke Competition BBQ Team, my wife and I cook outside almost every weekend. There’s nothing like cooking outside, over live fire to make people smile and bring them together.

Here are some tips for a great summer BBQ season to share with shoppers:
  • Purchase a good meat thermometer and know USDA safe minimum internal temperatures. Keeping everyone safe is paramount!
  • Keep your grill clean. All that baked on stuff isn’t flavor. Clean fire plus clean grill equals great food.
  • Keep the area around your grill clear and keep the kids away. No one likes burned hands.
  • Have the fire extinguisher nearby, just in case.

So fire up the charcoal and make this summer YOUR STORE’S successful grilling season.