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Moderation, not abstention in meat, fish and poultry



Moderation, not abstention in meat, fish and poultry

Moderation has been all over the news, and we saw the impact of Brits’ sober start to the year in our most recent grocery market share update. Veganuary has been everywhere in 2020 but do the column inches match the impact on the meat, fish and poultry (MFP) categories? Our latest update covering the 12 weeks to 26 January 2020 actually tells a more nuanced story than the hype around alternative diets would suggest. Even looking over the 4 weeks of January, the predicted MFP volume sales declines have not materialised, with only 155,000 fewer trips across fresh processed and primary meat and poultry and volumes sales down by just 0.8%.

Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director, MFP, explains: “We’ve heard a lot about the impact of meat free and the move towards less meat in our diets. We know that some people are changing their lifestyles and are cutting out or cutting down on meat, but a large percentage of consumers continue to buy MFP. Overall, fresh primary meat and poultry actually saw more shoppers – an additional 99,000 compared with last year. Volume sales for fresh meat and poultry were flat over the 12 weeks and were only down in fresh processed meat and poultry with all sectors in growth with the exception of bacon.”

Fresh processed meat and poultry may have seen volume sales fall by 1.1% compared with last year, but attracted 119,000 more shoppers and saw 3.2 million more trips. Volume decline has been driven by smaller baskets, as shoppers put less bacon in their baskets. Bacon has lost 155,000 shoppers compared with last year and seen 313,000 fewer trips, but the biggest contributor to the decline is again a result of smaller baskets, with those declining at -5.3% compared to last year. Promotions are a huge driver of performance when it comes to bacon – with these accounting for 27% of volume sales - down 18% on last year. Rising prices have kept value sales buoyant, with price hikes driven by promotional changes and inflation in farm prices. Sausages and burgers have seen strong growth as more shoppers pick them up.

Ward continues: “Within fresh primary meat and poultry, pork is seeing the strongest decline as prices rise. We’ve seen 680,000 fewer shoppers and 3.4 million fewer trips as shoppers continue to move away from roasts, steaks and chops. Leg and shoulder roasts are both down, with chops and steaks also seeing a strong decline. Overall, pork is seeing much less promotional support than other meats with promoted sales down. Some 20% less volume sales were on promotion this year, making this a key factor in the decline of the key cuts.”

Ward continues:  “We’ve seen fish really struggle in our recent updates, culminating in value and volume decline this period as fewer shoppers make smaller trips. Salmon (-1.6%) and Cod (-5.3%) are the key drivers of the volume decline. Added value fish is behind the declines in salmon and cod, but the latter is also suffering from losses in natural fillets. Added value lines are a key driver of decline, but natural fish is impacting the overall category as smaller baskets take their toll. We have seen fewer promotions driving this, with volume on promotion down 4% as there are fewer Y for £X deals available in store. The decline in natural fish is being driven by young and middle families, but also the retired who are a core group for the category.”

So while the buzz around Veganuary isn’t perhaps being reflected in market performance, will we perhaps see real change in habits as the movement gains more momentum from shoppers who gave veganism a try in January? We know that the new year is often a time for trying new things, so join us in four weeks’ time to find out how the trend progresses.

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Nathan Ward

Business Unit Director


+44 (0) 208 967 4432

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