Fish flourishes as red meat struggles
Love was in the air over the last 12 weeks to 24 February 2019, with Valentine’s Day in our figures. The season of romance helped in the face of concerns around Brexit and a no-deal scenario.
The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar show that uncertainty isn’t driving market growth or a period of austerity. What we do know is that the “most romantic day of the year” did help to drive growth for some retailers. The meat, fish and poultry (MFP) market continues to see volume grow and fairly flat value sales, with shoppers buying more of the cheaper proteins such as pork and chicken.
Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director, MFP, explains: “Pork and chicken are the leading proteins in the fresh primary world, growing volume ahead of value. Pork has seen the traditional cuts of chops and leg roasts decline, but the growth for steaks and shoulder roasting joints are driving the protein forward. The pork sector appears to be quite price sensitive with the main cuts cheaper, despite inflation in MFP overall. The sectors seeing rising prices are those suffering the most. Pork bucks the trend with a strong roast performance driven by shoulder, but chicken also sees growth with whole birds helping to grow sales. Chicken remains the overriding success story of the primary category, with both value and volume in growth. The engine of this performance is shoppers putting chicken into more baskets, with 2.1 million more trips including chicken in the last 12 weeks. As we’ve reported in previous months, breast and legs are the key drivers of growth, driven by stronger promotions which are up 12% and 17% respectively.
Ward, continues: “Beef and lamb continue to suffer despite the presence of Valentine’s Day, which has been historically a strong period for steaks. It hasn’t been as positive for the primary beef and lamb categories this year, with meal solutions performing more strongly over the period. The decline of beef and lamb have been driven by roasting joints and steaks, with the only strong growth in both proteins coming from mince. For beef, the decline has driven 2.1m fewer trips compared to last year, with steaks particularly impacting the trend. Promotions in beef steaks fell 23% and this has impacted the performance. The decline of the traditional and more premium cuts is stronger in the more traditional households, with mince driving growth for younger families. Whilst primary pork is in growth, carcass balance is something that pig meat producers will need to keep an eye on, with bacon seeing a strong decline in both volume and value terms, with 3.7m fewer trips compared to last year. Rashers are the key to that decline, with everyday sales falling despite prices in the category falling back.”
Ward continues: “The renaissance of chilled fish continues with solid value and volume growth ahead of grocery overall. Volumes are growing more than value, with added-value fish the only category seeing a volume decline. Natural is the biggest driver of the category and is key to the growth we see overall. As we’ve identified in the past, the performance of salmon is significant, accounting for 58% of all sales in natural and almost two-thirds of smoked sales. The growth of salmon is working with other key species in driving forward volumes in natural and turning around the inflation base losses of last year. Smoked is another key growth area and has seen 200,000 more shoppers driving growth. With a reported potential rise in salmon prices around the corner, we might see the growth here fall back slightly in upcoming months.
With a decision on Brexit around the corner, will there be a surfeit of products we previously exported, or will we suffer in the categories where we depend on imports? Price rises seem likely, but are we seeing this already? Find out in our next update in four weeks’ time.