June 8, 2021

In the 12 weeks to April 18, with year-on-year comparisons pointing at the early stage of the pandemic, Kantar reported that the UK meat industry saw a resurgence in those proteins, which took a backseat last year. 

Kantar said that chilled fish is now thriving, whilst staples like chicken and beef, which performed well at the height of the pandemic, have seen growth start to drop off. 

Over the 12-week period, the fresh primary meat and poultry market grew by 4.1%. The fastest growing of the proteins was lamb, up 17.8%, recovering from a tough 2020. Pork had good growth too, up 8.8% in the 12 weeks. 

Sales of beef and chicken, however, showed signs of faltering, with these family favourites falling into decline in the most recent four weeks, bringing the primary meat market with it (declining 1.5%). Beef was especially hard hit, losing 200,000 shoppers in the 12-week period. 

Justin Lines, Client Manager at Kantar, said: “We’re starting to see what will continue over the next year. The proteins and cuts that we turned to during the pandemic will be the ones that have the harshest declines as we return to a new normal.”

Sales of fresh fish, which saw subdued growth when the UK first went into lockdown, are accelerating – growing 22% in the last 12 weeks. Just under 250,000 more shoppers chose fish, with natural, smoked and added value lines driving the growth. 

Classic BBQ cuts have performed strongly, with burgers, sausages and bacon all gaining share of the processed meat market. 

Processed fresh meat and poultry grew ahead of primary in both the latest 12 and four week periods, achieving 4.3% growth over last 12 weeks. 

Lines said: “Egged on by the introduction of the rule of six and with limited choices for socialising, Brits took the opportunity to enjoy the sun in their gardens over recent weeks. Many people fired up the coals across the country, giving a boost to processed meat.

“Looking to the future, we can expect this mixed picture to continue as sales compare sales against the unprecedented performance of last year. Growth will come from areas that previously struggled, such as lamb and chilled fish. 

“In the short term, BBQs will be a national favourite as they are well suited for outside social hosting gatherings which look set to dominate summer.”

Meat sales by type
For the 12 weeks to April 18, meat sales in the UK were up 4.1% year-on-year.

Key highlights included:
Fresh beef (volume)                -3.8%
Fresh lamb (volume)              +12.7%
Fresh pork (volume)               +10.5%
Fresh chicken (volume)          +2.1%
Fresh turkey (volume)            -1.7%
Chilled fish (volume)              +18.9%

Fresh beef (value)                   +0.8%
Fresh lamb (value)                  +17.8%
Fresh pork (value)                  +8.8%
Fresh chicken (value)             +2.9%
Fresh turkey (value)                -1.3%
Chilled fish (value)                 +22%

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