Festive season ‘beefs up’ red meat sales

It mightn’t be the first meat you think of when you hear the word ‘Christmas’ but figures from December show beef is a step closer to taking the turkey’s crown as the king of Christmas – with sales rising 8.5% on the previous year.

According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel data, more people opted for beef roasting joints for the festive season last year, spending £69 million in the four weeks to December 30.

Lamb also enjoyed a merry Christmas, with sales up 4.4% and volume increasing by 1.4% compared to 2017.

These new findings could present potential opportunities for the red meat sector when looking at festive food preferences this year, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

In a recent report, AHDB states that while Christmas traditions mean that turkey still dominates the market. Indeed, turkey captured just over half of all fresh roasting meat and poultry spend five days before Christmas. However, turkey also saw the biggest losses.

Both volume and sales took a hit with shoppers moving to smaller birds and crowns – possibly as a result of smaller households, waste conscious shoppers and a preference for more than one meat on the Christmas tables.

AHDB Analyst Amey Brassington said: “In contrast to 2017, the reduction in turkey may have provided opportunity for growth of other meats, especially beef and lamb roasting joints.

Christmas week is clearly important for sales of all meat. But what we have seen is that beef sales were up for the four weeks around Christmas instead of just the one week. This means the beef industry could capitalise on selling beef for the whole of December.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, Christmas 2018 was the biggest yet in terms of grocery spend, despite weaker inflation slowing market growth.

The four weeks running up to Christmas accounted for 19% of annual beef sales, 14% for lamb and 11% for pork.

Fresh meat, fish and poultry did particularly well with value sales up 1.3% to £434 million and volume sales up 0.7% – topping 2017’s record Christmas performance.

Other sectors also had a strong Christmas, with potatoes finding their way on to more tables with a 1.4% rise in shoppers compared to the previous year. The value of total cream sales also rose by 1.8%.

Amey added: “There is much we can take from last year’s data. Christmas week is key for fresh meat sales, so we must make sure all have prominent placing in 2019.

“Also, the shift to smaller turkeys and growth of other meats shows that there is real potential to increase beef, lamb and pork on the Christmas table even further this year by utilising different joint sizes.”