The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has predicted that lamb sales during Easter in the UK will be “epic” this year.

AHDB anticipates retailers will strongly promote lamb through the key Easter, Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr holidays, and expect to see “increased demand” from shoppers in 2024.

In 2023, British shoppers bought 80,000t of lamb from supermarkets according to AHDB/Kantar, and the market was worth £852 million, up 4% year-on-year.

AHDB research has shown lamb roast dinners have been the Easter Sunday meal of choice in the UK, with lamb roasting joints seeing a 25.5% increase in volume sales in 2023 compared to 2022.

Of this, leg roasting joints accounted for almost 93% of all lamb roasting joints sold last Easter, and 62% of all lamb sold for the period.

The importance of the Easter roast was well supported by retailers last year, with many pushing promotions featuring imagery of Easter lunch with roasting joints front and centre.

However, during non-event periods, AHDB predicts that as food inflation continues to impact shopper behaviour, many will continue to switch to cheaper proteins, such as chicken and pork, and will save special cuts like lamb legs for holiday occasions.

In 2024, AHDB expect overall lamb volume sales in retail and foodservice to be down 2%.

Grace Randall, retail insight manager at AHDB said: “The lamb trade has seen incredible strength lately, with AHDB’s deadweight sheep SQQ currently sitting at 722p/kg for the week ending March 2.

“The price is now sitting 217p above figures seen for the same week last year. The export market continues to support, along with key demand events including Ramadan, an early Easter and Eid Al-Fitr landing early April.

“We’ve seen markets rise significantly for lamb in recent weeks, partly due to the strong demand around Easter and limited supply.

“There may also be heightened demand for lamb over the next few months, as Eid falls just a few weeks after the Easter period this year,” Randall added.

AHDB research has indicated that supermarkets are becoming more popular for Muslim consumers, as younger consumers are moving away from traditional stores and are looking for cheaper alternatives to butchers.

Awal Fuseini, AHDB’s senior halal manager, said: “Muslims account for an estimated 20% of lamb consumption in England alone, and more than 62% of halal consumers eat lamb weekly, compared with just 6% of the general population.

“Religious festivals in the Muslim community, such as Ramadan and Eid are all drivers of lamb sales,” Fuseini added.