The Size and Scope of the U.S. Hot Dog Market
Supermarkets and school cafeterias, restaurants and concession stands hot dogs are served everywhere. And while it is difficult to offer a single precise answer as to the number of hot dogs sold and consumed each year, one thing is for sure: the market is more than a foot long.
The following information is comprised of retail scanner data at supermarkets and grocery stores and by estimates as to the number of hot dogs sold at places where bar-codes are not used, such as corner stores, sporting events, carnivals, fairs and restaurants.
Retail sales in major markets are collected when products are scanned at the checkout counter. Scanners read bar codes on uniform-weight products, like a package of ten to the pound branded wieners. The Nielsen Company records data of this kind.
According to data for the year 2015, nearly 1 billion pounds of hot dogs were sold at retail stores. That number represents more than $2.5 billion in retail sales.
According to the Council’s 2015 survey of hot dog and sausage consumption at major league ballparks in the United States, ballparks are expected to sell 18.5 million hot dogs this season. The baseball fans love of the hot dog is why all top ten hot dog consuming cities host MLB teams. This information is based on sales data for the previous year and expected attendance for the upcoming season.
Trends and Facts
Sales of hot dogs remain strong throughout the United States. Sales remained steady at the retail level, and other venues continue to post high sales as well, including airports, restaurants and ballparks.
Driving sales is the popularity of high protein foods and interest in natural and organic products. New products available are mostly brand favorites reformulated with a reduced fat content or increased protein content. New products in flavors such as honey and brown sugar, barbecue, Cajun, spicy and teriyaki have hit the market in the last few years. According to consumer research, convenient packaging, preparation and usage information are high priorities.
Consumers with larger households made up of older children in the Midwest and south continue to be the highest consumers of refrigerated packaged meat products. Sixty percent, mostly older consumers, of people surveyed said they preferred all beef hot dogs. Younger consumers preferred other products such as pork and chicken.
The vast majority of hot dogs are of the skinless variety, cooked inside a cellulose casing that is removed prior to packaging. Some hot dogs are produced in natural casings that are not removed, these feature the characteristic “snap” that many people enjoy. Most hot dogs are sold eight to a pound. Approximately 35 percent are offered in 10 to the pound packages.
While the hot dog is a popular entree across the country, consumption does vary by region. According to sales data for 2015, New Yorkers spent more money on hot dogs in retail stores ($104.5 million) than any other market in the country. Residents of Los Angeles came in second with $78.8 million spent on hot dogs.
The summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day continue to make up the “hot dog season.” Hot dog producers estimate that an average of 38 percent or $614 million of the total number of hot dogs are sold during this time. Ten percent of annual retail hot dog sales occur during July, which is designated as National Hot Dog Month.