Canned meat could see resurgence, says AHDB

Canned meat could see resurgence, says AHDB

The surge in sales for canned meat at the start of the pandemic could indicate a future trend in sales as the financial impact of inflation hits households, a report by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has found.

Figures from Kantar dating back to the first Covid-19 lockdown in May 2022 show that overall volumes of canned food increased by 35% year-on-year. These figures include the peak in sales because of panic buying throughout this period.

Volumes of canned hot meats (such as hot dogs, pies and meats in sauces) were up 31% over this period, while canned cold meats (mainly corned beef and ham/pork) increased by 50%.

Since then, canned meat volumes have returned to the decline they were experiencing pre-pandemic. The latest Kantar survey of the year ending 10th July 2022 show that volumes of canned hot meats are 19% lower than they were five years ago, and canned cold meats are 9% lower over the same period.

In contrast, meatball volumes (which sit within hot canned meats) are still 10% higher than five years ago. AHDB said that this could be an area for further development.

Challenges to overcome

According to AHDB, the general downward trend in volumes shows that the uplift in sales of canned meats in 2020  was short-lived and the likelihood of any mass return to the category seems low.

It said: “With increased focus on health, environment and animal welfare, these products have challenges to overcome, and more premium canned products will require more considered sourcing.”

Opportunities to consider

However, increasing cost pressures on consumer budgets has seen many cut back on grocery spending. Kantar’s latest figures have found that people are shopping around between retailers to find the best value products. AHDB suggests that the lower outlay cost of canned products could play into this.

The products’ long shelf life, low outlay compared to fresh and frozen options and low pound to kilo ratio could drive sales over the tougher economic climate, says AHDB.

It added: “While canned meats are not immune to price increases, they remain a cost-effective alternative to fresh. However, fresh primary meat, fish and poultry remains a far more popular option, bought by 91% of households in the last 12 weeks, compared to 34% for canned.”

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