Meat sales rise despite the recession

The amount of money spent on meat has increased over the past year, despite the recession, according to latest figures.

Total consumer spending on fresh and frozen meat in the year-ended 17 May 2009 was £6.7bn, up almost 9% on the same period in 2007-08, the TNS Worldpanel data showed. While volumes sold were down across all meat categories (see table), higher prices more than compensated – average beef prices were up 14%, lamb 10% and pork 11% year-on-year.

“Previous recessions have shown that food sales hold up pretty well and it’s good to see these latest figures,” AHDB meat services economist Mark Topliff said. “Volumes were down on 2007-08, but that was quite a good year for meat sales due to the cold, wet summer. We have probably seen some drop off in volume due to the recession, but overall volumes are about where they were at the start of 2007.”

Pork sales proved most resilient, with expenditure up almost 9% and volume sales down just 1.8%, suggesting that some consumers had substituted beef and lamb with pork. Spending on pork leg roasting joints and pork steak saw the greatest increases and now account for almost half of all household fresh and frozen pork expenditure. Sales of beef and lamb roasting joints were down most, although cheaper cuts, such as beef mince (up 22%) and second-quality stewing steak (+18%) fared well. Spending on lamb mince and stewing cuts were up 22% and 11% respectively.

“It’s a pretty fine balance at the moment,” Mr Topliff said. “We have seen retail demand come back a bit, but so has supply, which, along with the exchange rate, has helped keep prices up. People are looking for cheaper cuts across all meats, but probably more so for beef. How long and deep the recession is will have a big impact on what people buy over the rest of this year – they always have been looking for bargains, but probably more so in the current climate.”

GB household purchases

Fresh & frozen:

Expenditure (£m)

Annual change %

Volume (tonnes)

Annual change %




















Source: TNS Worldpanel, 52 weeks ended 17 May 2009