Bank holiday sun shines over MFP
The late burst of warm weather over the August bank holiday and a corresponding upturn in retailer performance has helped drive stronger growth for the Meat, Fish and Poultry (MFP) market over the 12 weeks to 8 September 2019. Year on year supermarket sales have returned to growth, though shoppers are buying slightly less in volume terms.
The August bank holiday spread some cheer over the MFP categories, with burgers returning to growth alongside all primary meat and poultry categories. Volume sales are up across the board except in bacon, sausages, fresh processed poultry, sliced cooked meats and added value fish. Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director, MFP, explains: “We often talk about how the weather can be a kingmaker for MFP, and we certainly see that the sunnier late summer has been a boon to the market, which is in strong growth. Burgers are a great example of this effect, seeing 26% growth in volume sales compared to the same four weeks last year. This has turned the negative outlook last month into a much more positive situation for the market which recruited 529,000 more shoppers and added 3.6 million trips compared with last year.”
Ward continues: “We have seen continued growth from primary products, which had been struggling in recent months. Among the big four proteins, beef leads the pack in volume terms followed by chicken and lamb. Beef’s resurgence can be put down to the continued growth of mince and a return to autumnal tastes, with roasting joints and stews picking up. Beef has seen falling prices in part due to the changing mix of the category, but also as sales on promotions rise - with price cuts up 25%. These dynamics result in 1.6 million more shopping trips including beef compared with last year. Steaks continue to struggle, seeing 1.6 million fewer trips as full price sales fall away as a result of prices rising 84p per kilo on average.”
Lamb is also in growth, driven by existing shoppers making a million more trips. Steaks, marinades and shoulder joints are all key to this performance, which is particularly strong among empty nesters and retired households. Families with children over five are a key area of growth and help to bolster the strong growth from lamb’s heartland, older shoppers. Promotions - particularly price cuts - are also giving lamb a boost, with sales on promotion up by 30%, though growing from a small base.
Chilled fish is the fastest growing of the categories, with volume up 4.3% on last year. This performance is propelled by natural fillets and breaded fish, with shellfish and smoked fish also starting to see volumes lift. The category saw 4.7 million more trips, and promotional volumes up 5% on last year. Price cut promotions are prompting sales here, although in natural fish growth has been driven by full price sales with strong performances from salmon, sea bass and basa.
Breaded fish continues to see strong growth and is closing in on shellfish and smoked fish in terms of volumes sold. Cod and haddock dominate this category and contribute strongly to its growth. Ward continues: “Fish sales continue to be dominated by older empty nester or retired households that account for over 60% of the volume, but more of the growth. There’s therefore a huge opportunity to be found in targeting pre family households and young families.”
The current inescapable economic and political uncertainty casts a long shadow over the market. MFP products are not readily stockpiled, and sales of fresh product will be heavily impacted by the disruption expected over coming months. Find out our next update if the market can sustain its strong performance in this turbulent environment.