Red meat sales continue to struggle

Beef and lamb sales fell in both volume and value over the past three months, but pigmeat spending was up, according to Kantar WorldPanel (KWP) figures.

The market analyst said total spending on beef was down by 3% in the three months to 26 January 2020, compared with the same period a year earlier.

This was primarily driven by a 2% decline in the amount purchased, but average prices were also down by 1%.

Both the volume purchased per buyer and market penetration fell.

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AHDB Beef and Lamb analyst Bethan Wilkins said the figures suggested consumer demand for beef continued to struggle.

Lamb sales also fell by 3% year-on-year during this period, KWP figures show. This was due to a 6% drop in the amount purchased, which was only partially offset by a 3% rise in average prices.

People who did buy lamb purchased similar amounts to last year, so buyers may have been deterred by the rise in retail prices, said Ms Wilkins.

However, retail spending on pigmeat showed a slight increase of 1% compared with the same three months last year.

“This was driven by a 5% increase in average prices, partly due to a reduction in promotional support [shopper discounts and offers] for both primary pork and bacon,” said Ms Wilkins.

British pig prices were 17% higher than year-earlier levels in January, and the price of imported pigmeat was also up by 17% in December. This may well be pressuring retail margins, encouraging some price increases, she said.The amount of pigmeat purchased declined by 4%, mainly due to consumers purchasing less a head.

The main casualty was primary pork cuts, with fewer people buying pork and the amount bought a head dropping off.

The 1% rise in values was down to increased spending on processed pigmeat, while overall market penetration was maintained due to some growth in the ready-to-cook market, Ms Wilkins said.

Retailer performance

The decline in red meat volumes comes as KWP figures suggest an overall increase in supermarket sales figures.

In the past 12 weeks, year-on-year supermarket sales grew by 0.7% – the fastest rate since November 2018.

However, some supermarkets performed better than others. Sainsbury’s was the only one of the traditional large grocers to increase year-on-year sales, with spend up by 0.3%, said KWP’s Fraser McKevitt.

Among the rest of the big four, sales at Tesco and Asda dipped by 0.8% and 1.2%, respectively, while Morrisons’ sales were 2.0% lower than the same period last year.

The traditional big hitters saw their market shares further eroded by competition, with Lidl leading the charge.

Lidl is Britain’s fastest-growing grocer for the first time since November 2017, with sales up by 11.4%, Mr McKevitt said.

Lidl has benefited from its rapid store expansion programme, with its 800 stores serving an extra 900,000 shoppers over the 12-week period.

Its market share has risen accordingly, with sales up from 5.2% last year to 5.8% in 2020.

Meanwhile, Aldi’s sales were up by 5.7%, with its share of the market now standing at 7.9%.