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Easter phasing drives meat decline, fish still buoyant



Chilled fish remains the star performer with value and volume growth ahead of grocery.

Chilled fish remains the star performer with value and volume growth ahead of grocery.

Volumes are down across the board, with primary and processed meats suffering a volume decline after a positive performance in the year. This is reflected in latest Grocery market share release, which explains how a late Easter and Mother’s Day falling outside of the period all contribute to much slower growth.

The meat, fish and poultry market (MFP) relies on events to drive volume: treating Mum and Easter are great examples of driving a bigger in-home occasion.

Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director, MFP, explains: “Easter and Mother’s Day are vital to volumes in roasts and, with the timing of Easter this year, we are seeing some large declines in roast joints, especially lamb which remains a really important market at Easter. Chicken and pork remain strong performers despite the Easter phasing. Pork’s growth has been driven by bigger baskets and a strong performance from pork shoulders and marinades. Chicken continues to see a strong performance based on breasts (+3%) and legs (+7%). Leg promotions are up 25% year on year, but breast growth is based on good everyday value as average prices fall. The base of all growth for chicken is coming from it being present in more baskets, adding 955,000 trips on tops of last year”

Ward continues: “Chilled fish remains the star performer with value and volume growth ahead of grocery. We’ve seen 3.9 million more trips containing chilled fish, with 322,000 more shoppers entering the category. Just under two-thirds of households have entered the category in the last quarter and are on average spending £24.55 on the market. Surimi, cod, salmon, and prawns are the biggest areas of growth, with only added-value products seeing volumes decline. Natural, as the largest sector, is driving growth and has seen volumes increase 4.4%, with 3.2 million more trips. Over a third of households are buying natural fish, up 5% on last year. Older dependents, empty nesters and retired shoppers are the key demographics for growth. Smoked growth continues as 300,000 more shoppers are buying the market, with salmon accounting for a large proportion of that growth.”

Ward, adds: “Bacon continues to struggle to drive any growth with 419,000 fewer shoppers compared to last year. Lost shoppers aren’t the only issue for bacon, with the market also seeing 4.5 million fewer trips. Bacon is experiencing less volume on promotion, with promoted volumes down 11% as we see 29% less sales on price and price cut. All demographic groups are declining for bacon, with older households, particularly those with older dependents driving the decline. The other processed categories are all seeing volumes grow, but value down as prices fall in all the categories”.

Uncertainty is changing our shopping habits, but we are already seeing the effects of Easter hitting the grocery sector. We all hope that the late Easter stimulates sales over the next month and we see a turnaround in performance for red meat. What impact will Brexit have on our Easter, will we splash out and treat ourselves or will we pull back in the face of austerity? Find out all of this and more in our next update in four weeks’ time.

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Nathan Ward

Business Unit Director


+44 (0) 208 967 4432

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