Chicken flies off shelves as shoppers seek out value
Autumn has well and truly hit, with the worsening weather impacting our meal choices, and resulting in mixed growth for the Meat, Fish and Poultry (MFP) market over the 12 weeks to 6 October 2019. The overall grocery market has now moved out of the shadow of 2018, but MFP is seeing a slightly tougher time, with primary red meats, processed meat and poultry and sliced cooked meats all seeing volumes fall year on year.
Last period the August bank holiday provided a shot in the arm for the category, but that impact has lessened over the last four weeks, with primary meat seeing slower volume growth, and accelerated volume decline in processed lines. Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director, MFP, explains: “Primary red meat is suffering in the latest 12 weeks, with beef, lamb and pork all in decline as a result of attracting fewer shoppers. At the same time chicken and fish show strong volume growth, as more shoppers buy into those markets. Processed products continue to suffer in meat, fish and poultry, though burgers still show growth as a result of the halo of this summer’s great August Bank Holiday.”
Ward continues: “Chicken stands out among the primary meat and poultry categories, with 6.2m more trips this year and 208,000 more shoppers. Breasts and legs - up 8% and 19% respectively - are the cuts to watch, with strong growth driven by more shoppers and more trips. Promotions are fuelling growth here, with chicken breasts seeing a 46% increase in promotions as price cuts double. Promoted sales of legs are up 158% with price cuts trebled compared with last year.”
The 3.5% decline in value sales of beef is a big swing away from the rosier picture last month, and only mince saw any volume growth over the last 12 weeks - featuring in 608,000 more trips, despite losing 149,000 shoppers. The growth of mince has been driven by more promotions (+15%), with price cuts up 39%. Lamb has also seen a reversal in fortunes, seeing decline driven by roasting joints and steaks. Lamb has lost 182,000 shoppers but has some bright spots, such as marinades which are growing at 39%.
Pork has tipped into volume decline with 296,000 fewer shoppers and featuring in 1.99 million fewer trips. Promotions account for one in every five kilograms of pork sold, but have reduced by 8% year on year. Pork steaks are the key driver of decline, followed by loin roasts. Steaks are seeing 405,000 fewer shoppers, with 1.4 million fewer trips as pre-family and empty nesters buy less often, driven by 31% less volume on promotion. Ward continues: “Bacon continues to struggle with 4.3 million fewer trips, and decline in spend across all demographics. Promotions remain a key element in this, accounting for 30% of volume sales, and having decreased by 15% on last year. Burgers and grills bounce back as the August bank holiday weather drove a huge uplift in sales. Promotions have helped to drive this performance as they have risen 52% as we’ve seen more price cuts driving promotions up to 44% of all volume sold.”
Ward continues: “Chilled fish remains the fastest growing of the categories, with volume up 4.7% on last year. This performance is bolstered by strong performances from natural fillets (+11%), breaded fish (+13%) and smoked fish (+6%). Chilled fish featured in 4.8m more trips as more shoppers bought it more often. Promotions are helping drive the category growth, accounting for 31% of volume as the mix of promotions moves towards more price cuts (+31%) and away from volume deals (-21%). Shoppers in the post family life stages are driving growth, with retired shoppers - the largest group -growing ahead of the market. Salmon and pollock are the key contributors to growth, with sea bass, trout and basa growing strongly from smaller bases. Natural fish remains the powerhouse of the category and this is where salmon and sea bass are driving growth, as the sector increases price cuts 21%. Smoked growth is driven by promotions which are up 37%, but overall prices are up in the category as these promotions encourage trading up.”
Brexit continues to be a big unknown, and the uncertainty is a concern for farmers, processors and retailers looking to plan for the future. Fresh MFP is not likely to be stockpiled, and frozen categories are not seeing growth. Find out in our next update where the market is moving and what are the movers and shakers in this highly changeable market.