'Little evidence' of move to plant-based diets as meat remains popular with UK consumers

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Meat remains popular with consumers in the UK, Ireland's vital export market.

During the 12 weeks ending 30 December, total primary meat retail sales remained steady on year-earlier levels, according to Rebecca Oborne of the ADHB.

However, she also said that some categories did perform more strongly than others.

Analysing the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel over the all-important Christmas period she said retails sales volumes of fresh and frozen primary pork recorded a 4pc increase year-on-year, although declining shelf prices meant that the value remained stable.

"The growth was driven by chops/steaks and shoulder roasting joints, which performed strongly, although leg roasting joints declined in volume," she said.

However, the picture was less positive for primary fresh and frozen beef and lamb sales, which both recorded a 2pc decline in volume across the period.

"However, lamb shelf prices rose, which led to a 3pc increase in the value of the market. Within this, lamb leg roasting joints recorded a 1pc rise in sales volume despite an increase in shelf price.

"In contrast, beef prices were lower on average, and so the value of the market declined 3pc.

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"The ever-popular beef mince did record increasing sales volumes (+1pc), although prices were lower and this increase was not enough to offset declines in other products," she said.

According to Oborne, over the entirety of 2018, fresh and frozen beef sales slipped 2pc year-on-year.

"Burgers and grills, however, bucked the trend, reflecting the strong summer weather, and increased 7% in volume. This meant the overall decline for beef protein sales was less than 1% year-on-year," she said

"Fresh and frozen lamb sales declined by 7pc in volume in 2018. However, a hefty shelf price increase meant that value declined by only 1pc."

Ms Orborne said it seems there is little evidence at present to suggest there has been a significant turn towards plant-based diets, despite extensive press coverage.

"However, it remains to be seen whether Veganuary has impacted meat sales in the New Year," she said.

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