3 Steps to Grilling Category Success

May 31, 2023

While always a popular summer pastime, grilling caught fire during the pandemic when homebound, cooking-wearing consumers looked to outdoor barbecues as a safe and delicious way to entertain family and friends. 

According to the 2023 State of the Barbecue Industry Report, 80% of all homeowners and 70% of all households in the U.S. own a grill or smoker, up from 64% household ownership in 2019. And NielsenIQ data reveals that fire material and fuel sales are up 14.7% over last year. 

What does that mean for independent retailers? In short, there's a host of profit-building opportunity for retailers who are ready to up their grilling game, from assortment and merchandising tactics for meat (see 7 Tips to Promote Meat Offerings) to restoring a wide variety of fuel and grilling accessories that might have fallen off your radar during the pandemic.

IGA Red Oval Partner Kingsford offers these insights and tips for summer grilling sales success. 

Grilling Fuel

The grilling category has evolved exponentially in the last 15 years, and the options of how to prepare proteins have expanded to suit various experiences. Consumers are no longer limited to traditional charcoal, Kingsford's Wholesale/Military Channel Team Leader Rich Prast says. These are the four different forms of wood-based fuel:

  • Briquets. Uniform charred wood briquets can be used for various cooking methods on charcoal grills. 
  • Lump. Charred wood comes in various shapes and sizes. It serves multiple cooking methods and can be used in charcoal and ceramic grills as well. 
  • Pellets. Compressed hardwood for cooking in pellet grills. Can also be used as a flavor additive on charcoal and gas grills. Pellets have been the largest growing segment of the business for the last several years. Prast says this is because Traeger Grills’ patent wore off, giving the opportunity for other companies to step in and allowing more affordability. 
  • Chips and Chunks. Pieces of pure wood can be added to charcoal, gas, and grills for extra smoke flavor. “You can cook with them but it’s mostly for flavor and smoking,” Prast says. 
Quick Tips for Accessories 

With innovative options available, shoppers are hungry to try new products to take their grilling to the next level. Kingsford recommends these three quick tips to ensure your grilling accessory shelves are ready for shoppers so you can capitalize on the summer grilling months.

1. Position Grilling Accessories Prominently
Display charcoal and other grilling accessories prominently at the front of your store and near the meat department. This strategic placement will capture shoppers' attention and lead to increased basket sizes.

“When Kingsford is in the basket, the basket is about 38% larger,” Prast said. 

2. Take Advantage Of Grilling Occasions
The top three grilling holidays are Memorial Day, July 4th, and the NFL's Big Game – prime opportunities to drive sales in the meat category. Make sure you have ample stock and create enticing displays to attract customers during these occasions. 

3. Offer Charcoal Flavors And Types For Different Regions
When it comes to charcoal and pellets, flavors can make a difference. Prast explains that certain flavor profiles, such as garlic paprika are more of a standard flavor across the country, while garlic basil seems to pop more in the northeast and northwest. Chili cumin performs better in the south and southwest. Tailor your offerings to local preferences and promote these flavors accordingly.

Kingsford is also introducing two new flavors to their line: Bourbon and Memphis. “Memphis is a clear winner,” said Kingsford's Wholesale/Military Channel Team Leader Rich Prast said. “It's our strongest performer – it's brand new out of the gate – and we are getting both high trial and high repeat." 

(NOTE: If you're not currently carrying these options, contact your wholesale partner.)
Kingsford Memphis


Kingsford bourbon


How Can Retailers Engage on the Shelves? 

Unsure where to start? Kingsford can help. They can work with grocers to develop an optimal layout based on store size and recommend the perfect assortment based on region and sales data.

"We have that advice to give you if you're looking to restore the shelf," Prast said. "We have to get the shelf back to what it looked like prior to COVID. Or frankly even better than COVID, because I don’t think we were all the way there, until the pandemic hit.”

The grilling experience is one that can’t be replicated with propane, according to Prast. The game has changed in grilling, and shoppers are ready to enhance their grilling. With Kingsford's grilling heritage, a variety of products that serve a wide range of occasions and consumer needs, plus their willingness to consult with IGA stores on ideal assortment and layout, it's a winning partnership for independents.

Would you like customized advice from Kingsford on maximizing the impact of your grilling category selections? Fill out the form below and they will contact you directly.


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