The strong retail performance of lamb since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic continued at the end of 2021, with the latest sales data from Kantar showing that the meat enjoyed good sales in December.

Lamb leg roasting joints performed well at retail when compared to Christmas 2020, with the volume of meat sold up 1.2%, and 6% higher than Christmas 2019.

While the overall volume of lamb sold at GB retailers in 2021 was 3% down on the bumper year of 2020 at 63,350t, the meat’s popularity among shoppers remains well above pre-pandemic levels, with the volume of lamb bought in 2021 exceeding that of 2019 by 2.4%.

In financial terms, the value of the lamb retail sector continues to rise. British consumers spent £662.5 million on lamb in 2021, 1.5% more than the previous year and a whopping 12.6% more than 2019.

The strong lamb sales at the end of the year were part of a robust Christmas period for the grocery sector, despite price inflation becoming more acute.

Groceries as a whole were 3.5% more expensive overall in December 2021 compared to the previous festive period, whilst the average price of lamb was up 4.6% year-on-year.

'The popularity of lamb'

According to Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), the retail data shows lamb in a strong position heading into the New Year.

“The popularity of lamb among British shoppers is substantially higher now than it was two years ago before the Covid pandemic,” said HCC data analyst Glesni Phillips.

“Although sales are slightly below the 2020 peak in terms of volume, spending on lamb has continued to grow across most types of cuts and products.”

“Given the tight supply and high farmgate prices during much of 2021 it’s not surprising that there has been some upward movement in the retail price in the short term, and this may be part of the reason for the increased popularity of more economic products such as mince, where sales are up more than 20% as against 2019."

She added:

Overall, clearly retail consumers have come back to lamb over the past two years, with over 50% of the British population buying lamb at some point over that period.

"Welsh sheep farmers will be hoping for continued strong support from the domestic retail consumer heading into the New Year, and HCC has a number of promotions ongoing with retailers both large and small to follow up on the successful Christmas marketing.”