A December to remember: red meat and dairy sales soar at Christmas

A December to remember: red meat and dairy sales soar at Christmas

2023 saw a record-breaking Christmas week for sales, with £4.8bn spent on grocery, an increase of 4% year-on-year (w/e 23 December 2023, NIQ Homescan Panel) and a record £13.7bn spent during the month of December (4w/e 24 December 2023, Kantar).

It was a Christmas cracker for meat sales according to AHDB, with spend on total meat, fish and poultry (MFP) growing by 11.6% YoY during the 2 week run up to Christmas day. Across the red meat category, total volumes for each protein performed well, and with cost pressures still at the forefront of consumer’s minds, it was surprising to see demand for all the trimmings increase YoY, with chilled gravy volumes up 11% over this period (Kantar).

Turkey is still the UK’s favourite roasting joint at Christmas with 56% of shoppers preparing it according to IGD. Looking at cuts specifically, whole turkey and crowns/joints accounted for 31.9% of Christmas centrepiece volumes in the two weeks to Christmas (Kantar), but total turkey was also the only protein in the MFP category to see volumes down on pre-Covid levels. Could this mean the image of a traditional Christmas dinner with turkey as the centrepiece is slowly fading?

Despite its higher average price, total beef volumes grew, and total lamb saw a 17.3% YoY rise in volumes, which all came from fresh lamb, specifically roasting joints. Pork was the only red meat to have lost shoppers through switching to other proteins, however those who did buy pork bought more of it, resulting in total pork volumes growing by 3.7% YoY (Kantar, 2 w/e 24 December 2023).

In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, shoppers spent more than £593 million on total dairy products (including cows’, plant, and other animal), and cows’ dairy equated to 94% of these total dairy volume sales, a 2-percentage point increase on the previous year (2w/e 23 December 2023, NIQ Homescan Panel).

Overall, cows’ cheese saw an almost 4% increase in volume purchased this Christmas. In spite of this, and in line with AHDB’s pre-Christmas predictions, there was an indication that shoppers were cutting back in some areas perhaps perceived as non-essential, such as cheeseboards and convenience products. Double cream and crème fraiche also performed well, and despite it not being a product normally associated with Christmas, yoghurt saw its volumes purchased increase by almost 14% (2w/e 23 December 2023).

All major retailers saw YoY MFP volume growth in the 2 w/e 24 December 2023 but the traditional top 4 outperformed the discounters. Discounters continue to see the biggest change since before covid with volumes up 29.2% versus Christmas 2019, and it was a positive Christmas for Butchers with YoY volume growth of 3.9% (2w/e 24 December 2023, Kantar).

AHDB’s Retail & Consumer Insight Analyst, Charlotte Forkes-Rees said: “It’s great to see such great retail performances across our meat and dairy sectors over Christmas, and we hope this continues in 2024.

“AHDB continue to promote the natural health benefits of both red meat and dairy to provide accurate information and reassurance for all consumers, with our recent ‘THIS and THAT’ campaign championing the art of balanced eating.”

To read the full AHDB dairy and red meat Christmas reports visit: https://ahdb.org.uk/Query/4192?title=Latest%20consumer%20insight%20articles

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