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Challenging first quarter for meat, fish and poultry



Beef roasting joints are seeing volume growth while steak and mince are in decline.

Beef roasting joints are seeing volume growth while steak and mince are in decline.

It has been a difficult first quarter for the Meat, Fish and Poultry (MFP) market with overall volumes dropping as shoppers move their spend into other markets. In our latest data covering the 12 weeks to 25th March, the only categories enjoying growth are fresh processed meat and poultry, driven by the resurgent bacon category and the consistent strong performance of fresh processed poultry. 

As noted in our latest Grocery Market Share release, the “Beast from the East” really played havoc with normal shopping patterns and MFP was no different. MPF markets took a hit, being less likely to be stockpiled than other categories. The key fresh categories saw volumes down as shoppers picked up more convenient options which could be stored for longer and with less effort. Frozen processed poultry saw a strong uplift over the period, with volumes up 18%, with strong investment from both brands and private label helping to drive the category.

Taking a closer look at the primary meat and poultry proteins, only
chicken is growing in volume terms, as beef, lamb and pork all continue to decline. This continues the trend of the last few months; could this be the effect of the much-reported march towards veganism?

Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director for MFP, explains: “The primary meat and poultry market continues to see an overall decline, driven by 822,000 fewer trips. Shoppers continue to be engaged with the market with almost 9 out of 10 shoppers buying it in the last the months. What we are seeing are fewer trips, with shoppers increasingly going for other, more convenient, options, which see greater investment as brands and manufacturers look to address the flexitarian trend with new ranges and products. Red meat continues to struggle in volume terms, but lamb and pork have seen value grow as inflation further impacts these markets.”

The performance of beef has changed, with roasting joints seeing volume growth once again, and steak and mince in decline as shoppers make fewer trips. Mince has seen 850,000 fewer trips from pre-family shoppers, whilst steaks have seen 380,000 fewer trips from empty nesters driving these losses.

Ward continues “In primary markets, chicken continues buck the trend, with falling prices and rising volumes. Promotions are key to this dynamic, with promotional volumes up 7% on last year as we see more investment in meal deals - up 17% and TPRs - up 8%. Chicken breasts are the main beneficiary of this investment, with overall volumes up 5% and promotions up 37%. This has brought in more shoppers with 52% of the population buying them in the last 12 weeks, an increase of almost 300,000 shoppers on last year.

Inflation in chilled fish has reduced significantly in recent periods and this is stemming overall volume declines. While the key categories, natural and added value, continue to lose volumes the rate of decline is slowing as the effect of currency fluctuations and other outside effects slow. We expect to see a return to volume growth in the next few periods.

Our next update will include the impact of Easter, usually a big fixture of the MFP calendar.  We look forward to uncovering how the early Easter affected the market, and hope to report some more positive news in four weeks’ time

Get in touch

Nathan Ward

Business Unit Director


+44 (0) 208 967 4432

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