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Inclement weather takes the shine off BBQ season



Record rainfall and floods have dampened our ardour for summer eating

Record rainfall and floods have dampened our ardour for summer eating

After a sizzling summer in 2018, the start of summer 2019 was somewhat of a damp squib. Record rainfall and floods have dampened our ardour for summer eating, sending BBQ categories into decline. As such, our latest Meat, Fish and Poultry (MFP) update, covering the 12 weeks to 16 June 2019, finds the category facing challenging times. When we look at the wider grocery market, the impact of the unseasonal weather is evident, with shoppers buying comfort foods like soup as they wait for summer to start in earnest.

The inclement weather and fewer major national events this period has resulted in lower sales of fresh processed meat, sliced cooked meats and poultry, and chilled fish. Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director, MFP, explains: “Burgers have suffered in comparison to last year, when market conditions helped drive massive growth. Ranges in store are hitting the mark in terms of innovation and addressing trends, but there is no substitute for great weather and events that bring us together to celebrate! 550,000 fewer shoppers picked up burgers this year which, along with the impact of smaller baskets, is driving double digit decline. Burgers have seen an almost 20% reduction in sales on promotion; likely a mix of fewer promotions on offer in store and fewer shoppers entering the category. The steepest declines are among shoppers in the Midlands, South and Scotland, with older families, older dependents and empty nesters seeing the greatest losses – potentially the groups who liked to entertain over last summer."

Sausages are also in decline, with fewer shoppers making fewer trips, resulting in 2.4 million lost trips over the period. Bacon continues to decline, with lower prices pushing value sales into faster decline than volume sales and 4.7 million fewer trips compared to last year. Bacon continues to suffer as a result of its negative health connotations and changing consumer behaviour. Brands, particularly the healthier brands or those with strong provenance messaging, are doing well and private label “healthy” bacon is growing from a small base.

Fresh primary meat and poultry volumes are in growth compared to last year, but this is boosted by the timing of Easter in year on year comparisons. This results in strong growth in lamb and turkey, with a more realistic performance from the other proteins. Ward continues: “Chicken has seen static value growth, and limited volume growth, for the first time this year. However, that still equates to 2.3 million more trips, with prices at 4p less per kilo. Some 20.5 million shoppers bought chicken over this period - equal to 74% of the population. Roasts continue to suffer, with volumes down almost 5%, but breasts and legs continue to grow in both value and volume, buoyed by strong promotional support."

Beef has seen a return to growth after a few difficult periods, with volumes up as more shoppers (up 130,000) are making more trips (up 955,000). Decline in roasting beef is minimal this period, helping to bolster volumes, with the Easter phasing helping. Beef mince sees volume sales up 4.5%, driven by strong promotional support. Mince has seen TPR volumes up 42% which has helped to drive some positive momentum for the category.

Ward continues: “Chilled fish has seen growth flatten out in the last period, with the poorer weather impacting the category a little harder than others. Added value products have seen a continuation of the recent decline, with 1.4 million fewer trips this year. Shellfish growth has also fallen back, with volumes down and 270,000 fewer shoppers, despite promotional volumes increasing. The growth of natural fish is balancing out the decline of those categories, with 2.4 million more trips, with salmon, basa, tuna and haddock all driving category growth.”

With a mini heatwave over the last week and England moving towards the finals of the Cricket World Cup and the Women’s World Cup, will we see a boost for the market, or will rain stop play yet again? Find out in our next update.

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Nathan Ward

Business Unit Director


+44 (0) 208 967 4432

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