Festive boom secures record year for lamb sales
British consumers discovered a new love for lamb over the festive period with sales of £68 million, up 14% on both 2018 and 2019, according to new data from Kantar.
The latest figures, which covered the 4-week period to 27th December, shows an increase of 14.6% in the number of people buying lamb.
Sales of smaller cuts, ideal for meals for smaller gatherings in lockdown, led the surge in demand. Spending on lamb chops in December was up over 37% on 2019, with good demand for steaks as well as leg roasting joints.
Overall, 2020 was a record year with consumers spending £652 million on lamb – up 10.8% on the previous year. This total came despite a poor Easter for lamb sales, as fewer family gatherings were possible during the first lockdown and therefore reflects bumper retail demand in summer and autumn as well as the final part of the year.
The growth of lamb sales was particularly strong at high street butchers. Independent retailers accounted for 12.1% of total lamb purchases in 2020, as opposed to 9.9% in 2019, with spending up 35.3% on the year to £79 million.
“We’ve seen growing sales across all types of British retailers, but especially in independent butchers, which is a very interesting trend.”
Kantar data also revealed that groups of people who weren’t previously in the habit of eating lamb were discovering the meat for the first time. Younger shoppers, families with children and larger households all accounted for a higher proportion of lamb purchases than in previous years.
The rise in sales also coincided with a winter marketing campaign by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).
HCC data analyst, Glesni Phillips, said: “We’re delighted with the figures on lamb sales in 2020. It’s encouraging to see new groups of consumers responding to campaigns to inspire them to try new family recipes at home.
“Of course, sales of lamb in restaurants and hotels have been much lower, but demand from the retail sector has been strong. We’ve seen growing sales across all types of British retailers, but especially in independent butchers, which is a very interesting trend.”
Market prices for sheep farmers were strong throughout the second half of 2020, reflecting the strong retail demand and also reduced imports.
Latest figures from Beef and Lamb New Zealand show a further fall in exports to Britain and Europe as the southern hemisphere lamb producer focused more on Asian markets during the Covid-affected year. While New Zealand Lamb exports to China and other parts of North Asia were similar in 2020 and 2019, exports to Europe fell by 6%.