The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) recently launched its Foodservice 2021: Recovery, Challenges and Opportunities report including figures on red meat in the UK foodservice market.

The AHDB report, in partnership with Kantar for foodservice data and retail data, considers the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit on the foodservice sector, challenges and opportunities as well as new market trends.

Looking at red meats - beef, pork and lamb - the report shows the "strong position" of beef particularly due to burger consumption; pork's significant growth on the takeaway market; and lamb which gained popularity during lockdown.

The publication looks at consumption during the 52-week period and the 12-week period prior to September 5, 2021.


Total beef volume sales have declined by 0.8% year-on-year, with foodservice down 3.3% over the 52 weeks ending on September 5, 2021. This is driven by a 43% decline in eating out, while volumes have grown by 71% through takeaways, according to the AHDB report.

The week ending on September 5, 2021, saw retail accounting for 84% of beef volume, eating out for 8%, takeaway for 6% and catering for 2%.

Over the three-month period, beef volumes have grown in both the eating out (+4%) and takeaway markets, but this hasn’t been enough to balance out the volume losses in retail (- 4%), leading to an overall decline of 2%.

Image source: AHDB

However, the average amount consumers spend on beef increased by 81p per meal compared to 2019.

The published report shows that beef is in a "strong position" particularly due to burgers remaining one of the most popular dishes on menus. However, it is reported that consumers increasingly switch to chicken which sees beef losing share of total burgers.

Consumers could be encouraged to switch to more expensive products such as steak through the use of promotions. These higher price cuts drive up both volume and the value of beef, according to AHDB.

Takeaways are dominated by burgers and have accounted for most of the growth
in beef takeaways which increased volumes by 12 million kilograms over the last year.


Pigmeat volume sales increased by 1.9% across the 52-week period. Volumes in foodservice fell by 3.9%, while volumes through takeaways have grown by 141%. However, this wasn’t enough to rebalance the decline in eating out.

Most recent figures of September 2021 show that retail accounted for 86% of pork volume, far ahead of eating out (7%), takeaways (5%) and catering (2%).

Within the three months previous, foodservice has driven the growth for pigmeat as consumers return with 60% eating pigmeat across that period.

Image source: AHDB

Pigmeat is by far the most frequent red meat eaten out of home dominated by processed cuts (97%). On average consumers ate pigmeat 26 times in the last year, the AHDB report stated.

Prior to the pandemic, takeaway only accounted for 1% of volumes, however during the pandemic, pigmeat volume grew more than any other red meat in the takeaway market.

Since consumption relies heavily on takeaway food, the report indicated a potential market struggle if people do not return to full-time work.

AHDB stated the opportunity for pork to expand from quicker lighter meals to takeaway breakfasts and evening meals.

Breakfast dishes account for the largest amount of pigmeat volumes when eaten out with the full English breakfast being the most popular choice - 12.7 million kg of pigmeat was consumed at this occasion over the last year.


AHDB estimates show total lamb volume sales rose by 6% over the 52 weeks ending in September 2021. Lamb was the only red meat to see growth in foodservice over the last year due to a higher share of takeaway volumes.

Image source: AHDB

Most recent figures of September 2021 show retail accounted for 81% of lamb volume, eating out for 6%, takeaway for 12% and catering only for 1%.

Over 50% of lamb volumes eaten out include meals such as roasts or shepherd’s pie, whereas kebabs dominate takeaways.

Quick-service restaurants are the largest channel for lamb, accounting for 80% of lamb dishes including kebab shops and Indian takeaways. Trips to quick-service restaurants rose by 18% year-on-year.

Consumption of lamb gained popularity during lockdown and will need to retain these since competition in the delivery sector increases, particularly affecting kebabs and Indian takeaways, according to the report.

AHDB sees potential in transitioning lamb to more world cuisines and flavours as such could reinvigorate the protein and increase menu space as well as demand.