Meat, fish and poultry purchasing slows ahead of Covid-19

Meat, fish and poultry purchasing slows ahead of Covid-19

Our latest grocery market share figures from Kantar show year-on-year supermarket sales grew by the fastest rate since November last year, at 0.7%, over the 12 weeks to 23rd February, but the picture for the meat, fish and poultry (MFP) categories is more nuanced and continues to show that the rise of alternative diets isn’t completely reflected in sales.

Pork is seeing the strongest decline as prices rise, according to Kantar.

Additionally, with the bulk of coronavirus induced panic shopping not represented in this data period, the researchers say the situation is likely to very different in its next update.

Nathan Ward, Kantar’s business unit director, MFP, explained: “Across January we heard a lot about the impact of meat free and the move towards less meat in our diets. Using our Worldpanel Plus service, we spoke to 5,000 people who went plant based for Veganuary and 90% said they wouldn’t return to their normal diet afterwards. What we did learn was that only 18% managed to stay vegan for the whole month. This tallies with what we are already seeing; diets are changing, but it isn’t as black and white as consumers making wholesale lifestyle changes. Volume sales in MFP are down in across all categories except primary meat and poultry, which is fairly static. While there’s slightly more shoppers buying primary meat and poultry, we see each shopper is making fewer trips on average.”

“While processed meat and poultry has seen sales in volume terms fall by 1.8% year on year, value sales have grown as shoppers are paying 5% more (an additional 29p per kilo). This hasn’t dampened demand overall with spend up 3% and 1.3m more trips being made compared to last year. Volume decline has been driven by smaller baskets with all categories seeing smaller trips compared to last year. Bacon continues to see the steepest decline, as a result of fewer shoppers and smaller baskets with Y for £X deals down 47% compared to last year. Rising prices have kept value sales of bacon buoyant, with price hikes driven by promotional changes and inflation in farm prices.”

Fresh meat

Ward continued: “Within fresh primary meat and poultry, pork is seeing the strongest decline as prices rise. We’ve seen 764,000 fewer shopp ers and 3.8m fewer trips as shoppers continue to move away from pork roasts, steaks and chops. Leg and shoulder roasts are both down, with chops and steaks also seeing a marked decline. Overall, pork has had much less promotional support than other meats and the rate of promoted sales is down. Some 32% fewer volume sales were on promoti on this year, making this a key factor. Chicken remains the positive story in the category, with value and volume growth as we see 315,000 more shoppers putting it in their baskets and 2.9m more trips. Whole birds are still in decline, with this offset by growth in breasts, legs and wings. Promotions are again playing a key role here in holding back value growth, with 30% of volume sales on promotion, up 23% on last year as we see price cuts rise by a third.”

He concluded: “It’s clear that that shoppers’ behaviour has been hugely volatile over recent weeks, with unprecedented scenes of shoppers stocking up in anticipation of long stretches at home. Our next update will give us an informed view of the impact of this impulsive buying on the meat, fish and poultry categories.”

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