roast beef meal© Rex

Beef sales bucked their long-running decline over Christmas, with more sold than the previous year.

AHDB/Eblex analysis of consumer data showed fresh beef sales were 3.5% higher than a year earlier by volume, and were up 0.8% by value.

Figures showed more than half of UK households bought beef over the four weeks to 4 January.  

Lamb sales were also up 2.5% by volume and 0.1% by value.

See also: 2015 prices – beef strong but lamb may fall

Eblex sector director Nick Allen said the sales figures were “extremely encouraging” and showed beef and lamb remained popular with shoppers.

He said roasting joints drove most of the beef growth, but stewing cuts also performed well, which Eblex would capitalise on.

“Much of our trade marketing activity will concentrate on furthering the appeal of stews and casseroles with consumers across the board and working with retailers to retailers to ensure the category maintains constant growth,” Mr Allen said.

Pork sales were down on the year over Christmas, with 1.5% less sold.

Turkey remained the most popular festive meat, as shoppers bought more than 40,000t of poultry – a 1.6% rise on the year.

Despite the boost over Christmas, British consumers over the long term are buying less red meat and switching over to competitor proteins, particularly chicken.

British households bought 10% less beef in 2013 than in 2007, while lamb purchases dropped 21% over the same period.

At the same time poultrymeat sales rose 8%.