An American BBQ Classic on the Decline

This Fourth of July millions of Americans will presumably take to the grill for a good old fashioned BBQ. We’re talking beer on ice, music on speakers, and patties on the grill.

But one BBQ mainstay item that has been dwindling in popularity is the hot dog. Bloomberg Businessweek reports hot dog sales saw a 3% decline in 2012 from 201. This came from data collected by marketing firm, Symphony IRI, which also noted smaller declines in the two years prior.

Unsurprisingly, the decline is attributed to an increase in production prices. “Higher raw-material costs are leading to higher retail price points,” said Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. “Consumers are very sensitive to that.”

Echoing this idea is Ryan Stalker, brand manager for Hebrew National: “The biggest challenge facing our industry is the rising costs of goods, especially beef prices, over the past few years, which usually translates into softness in sales,” he said to Bloomberg Businessweek.

But this “softness in sales” is only prominent in grocery stores. Venue vendors and restaurants, where creative and premium variations of the dog are sold are still doing well.

As president of Nathan’s Famous, which saw a 17% jump in sales over the last year, explains: “If people are going to eat fewer hot dogs, they often choose a premium product. They choose to indulge.”