Chilled fish flounders
Chilled fish is the only Meat, Fish and Poultry (MFP) market not seeing volume growth in the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 26 March 2017. The report also finds that the rising inflation seen in the grocery market isn’t as pronounced in MFP, with lamb and fish the most obvious categories seeing like for like prices increasing.
Slowed growth in the market is primarily due to the timing of Easter, which this year falls outside the latest 12 weeks, while the celebration fell within the comparable period last year. This is seen most starkly in lamb, where volumes are down by almost a third.
Fish continues to be the biggest growth market in value terms, but has tipped into volume decline in the latest figures.
The turnaround in chilled fish is a significant shift in the market, as volumes had previously been in consistent growth since March 2015. The immediate impact of inflation has been to drive value up and volumes down. Shoppers are still looking for convenient options though, and are choosing more added value products (+7.4%) and less natural fish (-9%).
Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director for MFP explains: “We’ve seen inflation hit the fish market over the last few months and prices have risen in all sectors except shellfish. Natural and smoked fish volumes have suffered the most with prices up 14%, volumes down 9-10%, and fewer shoppers buying the category (460k and 222k fewer respectively) - driven by salmon in both cases. Prices of added value products remain stable (up 0.6%) and 646,000 additional shoppers have entered the category, as shoppers look for convenient solutions. Falling trip volumes suggest that shoppers are buying smaller portions in the added value category and the reduction in Y for £X deals has had minimal impact.”
Ward continues: “Primary meat and poultry continues to see volume growth, but lamb and turkey are holding back value. Easter has a big effect on these categories, and roasting meats overall, so all figures need to be viewed in that light. Beef continues to see value and volume growth, with 1.1m more shoppers buying steak, helping to drive a £14.8m boost for sales. The majority of this growth came from empty nesters and retired households, each spending on average £6 per rip on their steaks. There’s a continued impressive performance for chicken, with volume in double digit growth and 9.7m more trips. Legs, wings and breasts continue their impressive performance over the last few months, but despite red meat roasts suffering, whole birds add 5.9m kilograms to the category and 3.6m more trips.”
Easter is just around the corner and how the retailers approached this key date in the grocery calendar will be a focus of the next update. At the same time, we’ve seen record temperatures in early April, perhaps sparking a few early BBQs. Find out the impact in our next update in four weeks' time!