The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has predicted that traditional roast lamb sales in 2024 will increase on the year through Easter, Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr, as HCC predicts a boost in Welsh sheep exports.

Roast Lamb AHDB Copy

AHDB predicted that sales of traditional roast lamb would increase in 2024 compared to Easter 2023.

The trade body reported that in 2023, British shoppers bought 80,000 tonnes of lamb from supermarkets according to AHDB/Kantar data, and said that the market was worth £852 million, up 4% year-on-year. AHDB anticipates that for 2024, retailers will continue to "strongly promote" lamb through the coming holidays, and expects to see increased demand from shoppers as a result.

According to Kantar research analysed by AHDB, lamb roasting joints saw a 25.5% increase in volume sales in 2023 compared to 2022 (Kantar, 2 w/e 9 April 2023). Of this, leg roasting joints accounted for almost 93% of all lamb roasting joints sold last Easter, and 62% of all lamb sold for the period.

AHDB said that Easter marketing both online and instore for many retailers featured imagery of Easter lunch with roasting joints front and centre. Lamb also saw a 17.3% YoY rise in volumes over Christmas, which all came from fresh lamb, specifically roasting joints (Kantar, 2 w/e 24 December 2023) - AHDB said that perhaps lamb popularity may continue to increase across all special occasions.

"We predict consumers will get behind the celebratory sentiment surrounding Easter once again this year and are likely to spend a little more on their meal."

However, during non-event periods, AHDB predicted that as food inflation continues to impact shopper behaviour, many will continue to switch to cheaper proteins, such as chicken and pork, and will save cuts like lamb legs for holiday occasions. In 2024, AHDB expect overall lamb volume sales in retail and foodservice to be down 2%.

Grace Randall, AHDB retail insight manager, said: "The lamb trade has seen incredible strength lately, with AHDB's deadweight sheep SQQ currently sitting at 722p/kg for the week ending 2nd March. The price is now sitting 217p above figures seen for the same week last year. The export market continues to support, along with key demand events including Ramadan, an early Easter and Eid Al-Fitr landing early April.

"Previous research has shown the importance of the 'treat' aspect associated with lamb, and retailers are using this alongside promotional offers. We've seen markets rise significantly for lamb in recent weeks, partly due to the strong demand around Easter and limited supply. However, we predict consumers will get behind the celebratory sentiment surrounding Easter once again this year and are likely to spend a little more on their meal."

Randall continued: "There may also be heightened demand for lamb over the next few months, as Eid falls just a few weeks after the Easter period this year. AHDB research has indicated that supermarkets are becoming more popular for Muslim consumers, as younger consumers are moving away from traditional stores and are looking for cheaper alternatives to butchers."

Awal Fuseini, AHDB's senior halal manager, said: "Muslims account for an estimated 20% of lamb consumption in England alone, and more than 62% of halal consumers eat lamb weekly, compared with just 6% of the general population. Religious festivals in the Muslim community, such as Ramadan and Eid, are all drivers of lamb sales."

The March edition of Meat Management magazine featured a column from Fuseini discussing Ramadan and the opportunities it presents for the halal sector, and can be found here. Also included in the March edition is a World Sheepmeat Outlook, which takes a look at the 2024 market.

0D5A1812 scaled e1710499501219

Awal Fuseini: "Religious festivals in the Muslim community, such as Ramadan and Eid, are all drivers of lamb sales."

Welsh sheep exports

Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) reported that exports of Welsh lamb and other sheepmeat again increased year-on-year with both volumes and value seeing double digit percentage rises in 2023.

Using data from HMRC, HCC concluded that the total volume of sheepmeat exported from Wales had reached an estimated 30,500 tonnes, 12% up on the year, while total value hit £190.9 million - up 10%.

"It's great news and really pleasing to see that, post-Brexit, increased shipments to the EU drove this very welcome lift in volumes and value," said Laura Pickup, HCC head of strategic marketing and connections.

"It's a credit to our export team that volumes of fresh and frozen sheepmeat exported from Wales to the EU were up around 13% on the year - and in addition, value was up 14% at £179.3 million."

Pickup said France and German had both continued to receive "notable volumes" of sheepmeat from Wales and that HCC was "delighted that the figures for the Netherlands and Italy are climbing steeply, with volumes to Italy up an incredible near 40%".

She said that although farmgate prices in Wales were "firm" last year, Welsh Lamb continued to be "competitive" in the global marketplace.

PGI Welsh Lamb

HCC showcased PGI Welsh Lamb as part of the Annual Meat Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

PGI Welsh Lamb heads to the US

This comes as Welsh red meat exporters head to the Annual Meat Conference (AMC) in Nashville, Tennessee to promote PGI Welsh Lamb. Over 1,900 delegates from across the US meat sector are expected to attend the conference, with HCC and Welsh red meat exporters using the opportunity to network and connect with American buyers and importers.

Pickup commented: “AMC is the key event in the American meat calendar and it is vital that HCC is there to develop demand in this priority market to secure a prosperous future for Welsh farmers and exporters.

“Welsh Lamb is a premium product that boasts exceptional taste and sustainability credentials. It is produced with pride by Welsh farmers and offers some of the highest sustainability and animal welfare credentials within the global marketplace. This all adds to Welsh Lamb’s superior taste and eating experience.”

According to HCC, the US is a net importer of lamb and HCC's research suggests that the US lamb market could be worth £20 million to Wales.

This story was originally published on a previous version of the Meat Management website and so there may be some missing images and formatting issues.