July 6, 2021

In the 12 weeks to May 16, 2021, Kantar reported that the UK fresh meat, fish and poultry market saw further polarisation, with the full period comparing against the high levels of spending seen during the first national lockdown of March 2020. 

Overall, Kantar reported that the value sales of fresh primary meat and poultry dipped by 4.3% compared with the same period in 2020. This was largely a result of primary beef sales declining – down 8.7% in value terms and 12.2% in volume. Poultry was also down, with chicken and turkey both entering year on year value decline. Pork moved into decline after seeing growth of 8.8% in the previous period. 

In contrast, Kantar reported that the lamb market has thrived, with value sales up by 10.5% – largely as a result of shoppers paying higher prices. While lamb has rebounded from an underperformance in 2020, value sales were still up 7.5% on the same period compared with 2019, and lamb attracted 130,000 additional shoppers compared with the same period in 2020, and almost a quarter of a million more versus 2019. 

Jim McKenna, Kantar’s Client Executive, said: “We expect to see primary red meat continue to struggle to match the record highs of 2020, as shoppers return to hospitality outlets over the summer and focus more on burgers and sausages for barbeques.”

Fresh fish has performed well compared to 2020, Kantar said, with value sales up 19.8% (and volume sales growing 18.4%). Natural fish volume sales grew 19.7% thanks to increased levels of in-store promotions of salmon, with added value and shellfish seeing a strong rise in value sales. Battered and breaded fish products, which outperformed the fish sector in 2020, are now seeing growth slow in comparison to these sectors. 

McKenna said: “In the first national lockdown, shoppers were reluctant to buy fresh fish with a short shelf-life, and when doing so focused more on family favourites like battered fish – this has now reversed, with future growth likely to be led by more indulgent areas, especially salmon.”

Many barbeque classics saw decline in the latest 12 weeks, possibly due to the temperamental weather in April and May. Kantar reported that there were 15 million fewer barbecue occasions this April than in the same month last year. Sausage sales were particularly impacted, seeing value and volume sales fall by more than 12%. 

Meat-free options continue to see growth, with value sales up 15.8%. This was led by meat-free sausages, with value sales growing by 31.8%, representing almost £3 million in growth. While sales growth for meat-free lines surpassed the growth of primary and processed meat and poultry, it was slower than the growth seen in fish. And while the meat free category reached a record value of €79.1m in the most recent period, this represents just 5% of the size of the primary meat and poultry market. 

McKenna added: “In the last few weeks, we’ve seen the barbecue-related categories to pick up as Britain prepared for a June heatwave – and the summer of sport with the European Championships, Wimbledon and the Olympic Games. Social gatherings will also become more prevalent due to lessened restrictions – with this offering both challenges and opportunities for grocery retailers.”

Meat sales by type
For the 12 weeks to May 16, meat sales in the UK were down 4.3% year-on-year.

Key highlights included:

Fresh beef (volume)                -12.2%
Fresh lamb (volume)              +7.6%
Fresh pork (volume)               +0.9%
Fresh turkey (volume)            -6.1%
Chilled fish (volume)              +18.4%

Fresh beef (value)                   -8.7%
Fresh lamb (value)                  +10.5%
Fresh pork (value)                  -1.9%
Fresh chicken (value)             -4.8%
Fresh turkey (value)                -6.9%
Chilled fish (value)                 +19.8%

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