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Red meat slowdown hits meat, fish and poultry market



Red meat has seen a strong decline in volume terms

Red meat has seen a strong decline in volume terms

Christmas is fast approaching and it can’t come soon enough for the Meat, Fish and Poultry category (MFP). In our latest data, covering the 12 weeks to 7 October, fresh primary meat and poultry volume growth is static, following a few months of decline. Growth in the overall grocery market has also slowed this period, and chilled fish is the only MFP category which is growing ahead of the wider market rate (3.2%).  Summer is fading from memory and processed categories are slowing as Brits put the barbeque away, but fresh primary meat and poultry sales are not seeing the benefit, with red meats continuing to suffer.

Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director, MFP, explains: “Red meat has seen a strong decline in volume terms across beef, pork and most strongly, lamb. The latter has seen 2.3m fewer trips than this period last year, with only leg joints in growth. Volume sales of beef are down 4.6% as shoppers picked up 1.8m fewer kilos of roasting joints and 1.4m fewer kilos of mince.  In roasts, there’s fewer promotions - down 53% year on year - and losses are particularly pronounced among empty nesters and the retired, the key shopper groups for this category. Mince is seeing a different trend, with more promotions on shelf and shoppers making less full price purchases, down 9% overall. Families and those with older dependents are key to the decline in mince. The poor performance in beef roasts and mince has offset strong growth in steaks (up 6%) and marinades (up 26%).

Ward continues: “Chicken remains the strongest performer of the big four proteins, having been included in 1.9m more trips and bought by 73% of shoppers in the last 12 weeks. Chicken breasts and legs remain the strongest performers, with whole birds struggling - down 4% in volume terms. These aren’t seeing as strong promotional support this year, with 30% less volume sales made on promotion. Chicken breasts have seen volume growth of almost 10%, and added an extra 2.5m trips over this period. The versatility of the cut and falling prices - down 4%, or 25p per kilo – are encouraging shoppers to pick chicken breasts at the fixture. Legs are also seeing fewer promotions, but booming base sales as shoppers make 830,000 more trips to the category.”

Chilled fish remains a strong performer, with volumes growing slowly but strong value growth particularly from shellfish and smoked fish. We’ve seen 1.5m more trips compared to last year, but fewer new shoppers than we might expect, meaning existing shoppers are buying more often. Shellfish growth is particularly visible in in prawns, mussels and shrimps, but underlying all of this is rising prices –  up 9% on last year. Smoked salmon and haddock are driving the growth in smoked fish, which has seen 980,000 more trips this year, despite a rising average price in the category. Smoked salmon is resurgent, with promoted sales up 14% this year driving shoppers to buy more premium smoked salmon.

The return of natural fish is boosting the chilled fish category, with volume sales up 8% and 17% more sales on promotion this year holding down average prices. This has resulted in natural fish picking up half a million more shoppers and seeing 1.5m more trips. Salmon is once again the key driver, with volumes up 962,000 kilos (19%) and 2.3m more trips.

Turkey has started to see strong growth, albeit from a smal base – which could suggest we can expect a strong run up to Christmas for the traditional proteins, or will the mild autumn followed by a predicted deep winter affect our choices around proteins? Look out for our next update in four weeks' time.

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Nathan Ward

Business Unit Director


+44 (0) 208 967 4432

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