Poultry in demand despite veggie trend
With many Brits kicking off 2018 by attempting Veganuary – eating vegan for a month – and retailers like Tesco launching vegan ranges, you might assume it’s been a slow start to the year for the Meat, Fish and Poultry (MFP) sector. However, our latest data, covering the 12 weeks to 28th January finds good volume growth in the market.
Both fresh primary meat and poultry and fresh processed meat and poultry grew volume over the past 12 weeks, but chilled fish continued to suffer volume losses. Only fresh processed meat and poultry (growing at 4.8%) grew faster than the wider grocery market (3.4%) and inflation. Read our Grocery Market Share update to find out more about the trends affecting the wider grocery market.
The majority of households bought more meat and poultry over the period, with a majority of shoppers continuing to buy the categories. So the rise of vegan and vegetarian diets does not necessarily mean consumers are moving away from meat overall.
When we look at fresh primary meat and poultry, we do see some real differences in performance, with poultry growing volumes and red meat seeing tougher times.
Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director for MFP, explains: “The Christmas period clearly has a significant affect on the 12 week trends, but there is strong growth outside of Christmas dinner, especially for chicken which is seeing prices fall and volumes rise. Shoppers have seen average prices fall 16p per kilo, which has helped to add 466,00 more shoppers and 1.6 million more trips compared to last year. The growth of chicken is not driven by shoppers buying whole birds for a traditional Sunday roast, with chicken legs (11.4%) chicken breasts (2.5%), and chicken wings (5.2%) all seeing volume growth. Chicken legs and chicken breasts are both increasingly sold on promotion, resulting in falling prices and therefore attracting more shoppers.”
Conversely, beef and lamb are both struggling, with prices rising above the market average. Beef prices are up 18p per kilo, and lamb 40p per kilo. As prices rise further on lamb, shoppers are using it less as a source of protein and making less trips. Beef sales are falling as shoppers change their mix in the category and make smaller trips. Roasting cuts are driving the decline, whilst mince and steak remain buoyant, with promotional support helping to bolster volumes. Promotions are up 24% - with retailers using more price cuts, and mince promotions up 10% with the return of Y for £X deals helping to drive volumes.
Ward continues: “Chilled fish has continued to suffer in volume terms as long term inflation affects the category. Christmas didn’t provide the same level of uplifts for added value, shellfish or smoked fish, which are all seeing significant volume losses. We would usually expect to see healthier eating trends help the fish category, but this January the category is swimming against the tide, particularly as other proteins sharpen their promotional focus and offer to meet a wide range of needs across their cuts.”
Things are looking positive at the start of 2018, but will we see the pressure in store and in the press start to influence meat and poultry sales? Will we see a resurgence for fish as the inflation annualises and shoppers get used to the new prices? Love is also in the air as Valentine’s Day hits our figures – will shoppers dine in on the deluge of meal deals, or will we look to a value Valentine’s Day experience? Find out more in the next update in four weeks’ time.