Supermarket sales data suggests press claims that the nation is turning away from meat and towards plant-based products are over-exaggerated.
The farming industry remains concerned about the impact of Veganuary on consumers’ buying habits, but during the Christmas period meat was firmly on the menu.
Retail analyst Kantar Worldpanel’s market update for the 12 weeks to 30 December suggests it was a buoyant Christmas for meat, fish and poultry sales.
Total primary meat retail sales remained steady on year-earlier levels, although some categories performed more strongly than others.
The big winner in terms of volumes sold was pork, which saw sales of fresh and frozen primary pork rise by 4%.
The growth was driven by strong pork promotions which increased demand for chops, steaks and shoulder roasting joints, although leg roasting joints declined in volume.
Declining shelf prices also meant that while volumes were up, the value of the product sold remained stable.
According to AHDB, the picture was less positive for primary sales of fresh and frozen beef and lamb, which both saw sales volumes drop by 2%.
However, lamb shelf prices rose, which led to a 3% increase in the value of the market.
There was a fall in sales of beef roasting joints and the only beef product that saw an increase in volumes was mince, which was up by 1%.
Overall, beef prices were lower on average and so the value of the market declined 3%.
Looking at the year as a whole, lamb sale volumes were down by 7%.
Beef sales slipped by 2%, despite a 7% increase in the consumption of burgers and grills over the summer months thanks to the summer weather.
Total pigmeat protein sales across the whole of 2018 were very similar to 2017.
AHDB red meat analyst Rebecca Oborne said: “It seems there is little evidence at present to suggest there has been a significant turn towards plant-based diets, despite extensive press coverage.
“However, it remains to be seen whether Veganuary has affected meat sales in the new year.”