Consumers Are Gearing Up for BBQ Season and Prioritizing Health

In preparation for the summer and warmer weather, consumers are spending big on barbecue supplies.

Consumers increased purchases of barbecue-related consumer packaged goods products in April, according to NCSolutions. Nearly all barbecue categories grew faster than the same period in 2019.

This new data is part of a growing consumer trend—and it’s not just at-home dining. At restaurants, the term “Nashville BBQ”  on U.S. restaurant menus increased by 80% over the past year, according to the 2021 Taste Trends Report from Kerry. The report also found that “smoked” is now on 50% of menus and became the most dynamic flavor choice in soups and sauces.

Here’s a closer look at what consumers are buying ahead of barbecue season:


The top-gaining barbecue-related categories for the 12 months ending April 2021 compared to the prior year were main courses: seafood (29%), chicken (18%) and, notably, vegetables and imitation meats (17%), according to NCSolutions.

“Americans are making health a higher priority as the pandemic enters the next phase and are doing more shopping for healthy food items,” said Linda Depree, CEO of NCSolutions, in a press release. “Brands can further embrace this trend during barbecue season by promoting healthy products to consumers who are currently shopping the category.”

Seafood also grew by 44% in summer 2020, surpassing chicken and meats, which grew 27% and 20% respectively. This is a change from summer 2019 when meats were the top growing category year-over-year, followed by seafood.

This is mainly a reflection of the meat shortage last April but could also be a result of consumer perceptions that seafood is a healthier alternative.


Along with main courses, consumers are spending on snacks. Household spending on salty snacks and dips also increased by 5% in April 2021, compared to pre-pandemic buying in April 2019.

One bright spot was produce dip (for dipping fruits and vegetables) which was up 14% compared to salty snack dips which were down 18%., indicating that consumers are leaning towards snacking with fresher ingredients.


In order to prepare their favorite barbecue items, consumers are also splurging on equipment and supplies. The outdoor essentials category was up 18% in April, compared to March, and 22% year-over-year. Consumer spending on paper goods and supplies like napkins, disposable dishes and food storage materials collectively rose 3% from the previous month.

Additionally, NPD reported consumers spent more than $4.9 billion on grills, smokers, camping stoves, accessories, and fuel last year, and more than 14 million grills and smokers were sold between April 2020 and February 2021.