Will Food & Beverage Sales Skyrocket or Fizzle This 4th of July?


With the Fourth of July holiday just a week away, Americans are already heading to the supermarket to shop for their backyard BBQs. Will they spend more on food & beverages this Summer than last? We posed that question – and a few others – to Glenn Koepke, GM of Network Collaboration at FourKites – a global supply chain company that tracks food & beverage shipments in real-time.

Q: With inflation cooling and travel above 2019 levels (per TSA checkpoint numbers), do you expect F&B volumes to be more, less or the same as last Summer?

At an entire industry level, food and beverage (F&B) will likely be flat to slightly down year-over-year due to economic conditions, job instability, and consumers looking to conserve cash and focus more on value. Within specific segments of F&B, we will see pockets of year-over-year growth, due to new product launches, promotions, weather and holiday trends.

For the Fourth of July holiday, we anticipate a similar trend to what we saw in-and-around Memorial day where the beverage markets, both alcohol and non-alcohol, will have a 10%+ shipment volume growth which is consistent with the data we are seeing as the ramp up for retail is in full effect.

Q: How have F&B shippers evolved the way they plan for and execute the busy summer season in recent years (if at all – if they haven’t, what should they consider)? 

The most effective way shippers have evolved is by planning and collaborating. Summer peak season requires really strong sales and operational execution (S&OE) and planning ahead of time with retailers on growth and product goals. We have seen a major shift with F&B companies investing in order-based solutions that have the ability to ingest lots of transactional data, including point of sale, inventory, in-transit, predictive risk and financial transactions. This shift is all aimed at getting products to the right place, at the right time at a competitive price.

Q: Any other comments on the data or anything else?

Dwell time and delays vary based on the product type, loading and unloading complexity and what current warehousing capacity. Beverage delays can be due to warehouses having excess inventory as a holiday ramp occurs, so it takes longer to find places to store pallets and move product around the warehouse. In addition, beverages that are in glass containers require specialized handling due to the concern of breakage, which leads to longer unloading times. Snacks and other dry goods often don’t have the damage concern with handling compared to glass and temperature-controlled products, so the loading and unloading complexity reduces significantly for warehouse operators.

With freight market conditions hitting a floor in 2023, F&B shippers can take advantage of soft market conditions and don’t feel the pressure to stock up on inventory as much as they might otherwise thanks to the availability of trucks to move product last-minute and at a competitive price. A year ago, however, there was no guarantee the truck would show up to pick up the goods, even with advance notice.

Since transit days and speed-to-shelf are always a focus for supply chain professionals, the rush of summer peak season means they often leverage forward deployment centers, which helps manufacturers get their product into major metropolitan markets within 24-48 hours versus having to way for longer transit times.