Red meat, dairy and potatoes have all fared well throughout Covid-19, with grocery spend offsetting losses from food service closures during lockdown for most categories.

According to analysts at Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the pandemic has led to a major shift in consumer buying and consumption behaviours, leading to changes in how people cook and feed their families.

AHDB predicts that total potato volumes in the market, considering both retail and out-of-home, have risen 8% in the year-to-date, with grocery volumes of fresh potatoes up 108,000t over the last six months and frozen potatoes 47,000t.

During the same period, pork; beef; lamb as well as most dairy products, have also enjoyed a significant uplift in retail sales.

For lamb, takeaway and delivery gains have also bolstered overall volumes, compensating for eating-out losses.

AHDB senior retail insight manager Kim Malley said:

"To say that this year has been a challenge would be an understatement but we have seen that meat, dairy and potatoes have made an incredible response to the shift in consumer demand.

While eating-out has been severely affected by the pandemic and led to restaurants and cafes closing overnight, the retail spend on red meat, potatoes and dairy has been strong enough to offset many of the losses.

These findings were revealed during AHDB’s first series of Consumer Insight webinars which looked at the changing market landscape for meat, dairy and potatoes.

Over the course of the three days, more than 350 people joined the webinars to gain an overview of how the sectors have performed during an unprecedented year.

Retail performances

Analysts explained how cheese has done well with retail volumes up 16% in the last six months.

During the same period, butter was up 23.6%, with cream stealing the show at 31.8%. However due to category size, milk accounted for three quarters of the volume growth.

In retail, beef and pork grew in line with the market, with beef up 12% and pork rising 11%. Lamb has seen smaller growth at 0.4%, however, this covers a lockdown Easter and prior to Covid-19, volumes were down 6%.

Malley added:

"Our webinars not only provided an overview on volume performance, it also highlighted the many opportunities that exist to help increase market share for all sectors.

"We predict the eating-out market will not recover any time soon, especially in light of the new restrictions announced at the weekend, but the retail and takeaway markets will continue to grow.

"Therefore, it is vital that we make the most of these channels to grow volumes of all our sectors," she concluded.