Retail figures show 27% increase in UK retail beef sales

Britons’ spend on beef increased by more than a quarter over the last 12 weeks according to the latest retail sales data.

Whilst the market continues to face pressures around coronavirus, figures from Kantar Worldpanel showed an upsurge in total spend on beef in the retail sector, partly offsetting some of the disruption caused by the loss of foodservice markets such as restaurants, hotels and pubs.

Total spend on beef during the 12-week period (to week ending May 17) increased by 26.9% on the year.

Within this, consumers purchased more each time they went to the shop and also increased the frequency of their shopping trips. The number of buyers also rose by 8.7%.

Total spend of minced beef surged by 34.5% during the period as consumers looked for cheaper, easy to cook options – a trend particularly evident during the first weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the data does also highlight a significant increase in spending on other beef cuts in recent weeks following campaigns by retailers and levy boards.

Sales of beef steaks at retail enjoyed a strong end to the 12-week period as the volume sold increased by 24% compared to year-earlier levels.

Within this, there was a 43.9% increase in the volume of beef steaks sold specifically during the last four weeks of the period when compared to the same period in 2019.

The average price of steaks during this time did decrease slightly – a reflection of the promotional offers at retail aiming to increase sales of higher-end cuts to improve the carcase balance.

A decrease in price, combined with the marketing drive and BBQ weather, resulted in 16.4% more consumers buying beef, with the volume per buyer increasing by 6.5% on year-earlier levels.

Rhys Llywelyn, market development manager at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), said: “Our decisive action, early in lockdown refocussed our PGI Welsh Beef marketing activities. Consumers were encouraged to cook restaurant favourites at home and be adventurous with different cuts of red meat.

“This dovetailed into a significant UK-wide campaign funded by the Ring-Fenced Fund, combining the efforts of the three Levy Boards in Wales, Scotland and England which will have helped drive the UK-wide appetite for red meat.”

Lamb sales

Headline figures for lamb sales are less positive and this was expected given that the Easter holiday, which usually sees the highest volume of sales during the year, fell at the height of the lockdown.

Overall, over the three months, lamb sales experienced a decrease in spend despite a 7% increase in the average price to £9.90/kg.

The frequency of purchases remained stable. Whilst retail sales of lamb roasting joints continued to show a pre-Easter peak, this peak was not as high as the previous year resulting in a drop of total spend by 15.1%.

In contrast to this, lamb chops saw a 23% upturn in the volume sold, resulting in a 25.2% increase in spend.

Rhys added: “With both Easter and Ramadan falling during lockdown restrictions families weren’t able to gather and celebrate with lamb as they traditionally would.

“At HCC, we stepped up our consumer marketing campaign and delivered new recipes to tempt home cooks to use different PGI Welsh Lamb cuts. Our campaigns will be activated fully in summer and extend into autumn and winter.”

Pork sales

A burgeoning pork retail market enjoyed a significant increase in total spend, up 24.2% due to a combination of a 7.3% increase in average price and a 15.8% increase in total volume.