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Large volumes of hot dogs are sold at both the retail level and at foodservice outlets and restaurants. It is difficult to estimate the exact number of hot dogs sold each year because hot dogs are ofered in so many venues – like corner stands, sporting events, carnivals, and other places But one thing is certain - the market is large.
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. Companies like Information Resources Inc. in Chicago or NPD in Port Washington, N.Y., track these numbers. Please note: the scan data that is collected from major markets, does not represent every market and does not include grocery stores that do not have scanners. According to figures for 2004, 837 million packages of hot dogs were sold at retail stores*.
According to the Council's annual survey of hot dog and sausage consumption at major league ballparks in the United States, ball parks expected to sell 24.2 million hot dogs at baseball stadiums in 2004. Dodger Stadium led the pack for the Top Ten Hot Dog Eating Stadiums listing with 1.61 million hot dogs. For 2005, the survey revealed that an estimated 27.5 million hot dogs would be eaten by baseball fans at major league ballparks.
In the mid-1990s, low-fat and fat-free formulations hit the market and sales in retail stores were strong. However, in recent years, sales in the "better for you" category have remained consistent. Better for you hot dogs account for 12.4 percent of the total market for hot dogs*. Dollar sales for the category are substantial however, with the top ten markets selling a total of $37,332,066 in 2004*.
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. The majority of hot dogs are sold eight to the pound. Approximately, 35 percent of hot dogs sold are offered in 10 to the pound packages.
While a popular entrée across the country, hot dog consumption does vary by region. Residents of the Southeast eat more processed meats in general. Residents of the Big Apple, New York City, spent the most money in retail stores on hot dogs last year - a whopping $112.6 million*. Los Angeles residents, however, purchased the most pounds of hot dogs in retail stores - 42,273,360*. For the second year in a row, the Baltimore/Washington area came in third for dollar sales at $51.4 million*. This is significant considering its relative size and population in comparison to the other cities listed. The current population for Baltimore/Washington area is 3.3 million versus New York City (#1) and Los Angeles (#2) with populations at 8.1 and 3.9 million, respectively.
Hot dog producers estimate that an average of 38 percent of hot dogs is sold annually at retail between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Last year, there were approximately $614 million in retail sales from June through August*. Ten percent of annual retail hot dog sales occur during July, which is designated as National Hot Dog Month.
*Source: Information Resources Inc. 2004