roast chicken meal© Food & Drink/Rex/ Shutterstock

Chicken outperformed turkey in the all-important Christmas period, according to recent data from market analysts Kantar WorldPanel.

Retail sales figures for the four weeks including Christmas show strong growth for poultry overall, with volume up 9.2% compared with the same period of 2014. Encouragingly, the value of these sales was also higher, with consumers spending an extra 4.2% in the poultry aisles.

But within the overall category, it was chicken that dominated, with fillets and other pieces up by more than 10% in volume and 6% in value.

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Even whole birds sold more in the run-up to Christmas, though aggressive price promotions by retailers meant the amount spent was unchanged on the previous year.

But it was a different story for turkey, with total sales down 2.8% in volume and 4% in value.

The biggest decline was for whole birds, which suffered an 8.1% drop in volume and a massive 12.5% drop in value compared with 2014. Conversely, turkey rolls, crowns and joints posted an increase.

“Turkey still featured on the more traditional plate, but time with family prevailed over time in the kitchen, and we saw a decline in whole birds as the more convenient options won,” observed Kantar’s business unit director, Nathan Ward.

“As diets and tastes evolve, other proteins also became part of the Christmas menu and the move from traditional turkey is also shown by beef roasting joints, which grew volumes on a strong 2014 Christmas performance.”

“Other poultry” – including ducks and geese – also performed well, with volume sales up 23% year-on-year.

Andy Dawkins, managing director of meat processor Faccenda Foods, which covers all sectors of the poultry market, suggested sales of “roaster” chickens may have encroached on sales of whole turkeys.

“Consumers are also eating more than one protein at special family meals, so it may be that they’re opting for a smaller chicken than a large turkey.”

Christmas dinner was cheaper this year, according to the Kantar data, with the amount spent on a typical lunch down 2.2%.

# For more on the Christmas turkey trade, see February’s Poultry World .