Fish flounders in the face of inflation
The latest data for the 12 weeks to 3 December shows Meat, Fish and Poultry (MFP) volume sales in slight decline compared to last year, and value rising through inflation.
Pork, chicken and other red meat are the only primary categories seeing volume growth this period. Pork remains the star performer in both value and volume terms, and while growth is slower now than it was in our last update, it is still growing well ahead of the market. Inflation continues to affect the primary MFP categories more than the processed markets, which are all growing in volume and seeing lower inflation levels. Consumers are responding to rising prices with a mixture of trading down and different choices about the markets, proteins and cuts they buy.
Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director for MFP, explains: “The growth of pork is the main story in primary meat, having moved away long term decline to three consecutive periods of growth. This has been fuelled by 2.1 million more trips than last year as 290,000 more shoppers buy the protein. As a result we see strong growth despite prices rising 7.4% over the period. Mince is performing strongly with volume up 29%, followed by leg joints (+22%) and diced or cubed pork (+20%) as the AHDB ‘midweek meal’ campaign continues to raise awareness and put pork front of mind for consumers.”
Ward continues: “Fresh processed meat and poultry are the categories showing the strongest growth at the moment, benefitting from an increase in Y for £X deals and meal deals. Processed poultry sees the fastest value and volume growth, adding 6.6m more trips this year as promotional volumes rise 12% - giving shoppers a choice to make at the fixture. Growth is being driven by those aged 55 and over, empty nester and retired shoppers, showing the convenience trend extends to all age groups.
Chilled fish continues to see the effects of inflation, with volume down 6.5% overall and value declining 1.3%, as shoppers make 5.3 million fewer trips to the category. Promotional support for the category is down, with 19% less volume sold on deal, as retailers use fewer Temporary Price Reductions (TPRs).
Salmon continues to be the species most affected by inflation and is driving volume losses for the category, particularly from natural, smoked and added value lines. Prices are up 13% (or £1.84 per kilo) – resulting in 4 million fewer shoppers taking trips which include salmon compared to last year. Until last month, added value salmon lines were the star performers in chilled fish, with solid promotional share seeing them take share from natural and smoked products. In this latest period, however, the market has constricted rapidly with volume down almost 7% as shoppers make 2.1m fewer trips to the category, and attracting 450,000 fewer shoppers compared to last year. Promotions are an element in this – having declined by 7.7%, but prices haven’t risen, with price per kg actually down by 0.4%. In added value, the decline in the core market of ABs and post family shopper is a factor to watch.
The Christmas season is now truly in swing, with all the meat and trimmings appearing on shelves in store – but will the inflation we are seeing put a dampener on festivities? Having looked back at Christmas 2016, it looks like the push for convenience and value will still be important this year, but shoppers will continue to trade up for special meals, particularly around the trimmings and additions to make a good meal a great meal! We’ve already seen a retailers focus on premium products and expect shoppers to invest in a great Christmas experience despite the inflationary pressures they are feeling.