Growth in meat market hides decline in consumption

A gradual decline in the consumption of meat products has been disguised by rising costs and the impact of inflation, according to a new report from Key Note.

It said that although the value of the market grew by 6.9% from 2012 to 2013, demand for meat has been dropping due to increases in price, and the fallout from the horsemeat scandal.

However despite its prediction that the decline in consumption will continue, Key Note said a drop in inflation would help offset some of the effect, with market growth of 8.3% predicted by 2018.

According to Key Note, the retail price has been rising above the rate of inflation since 2008, making it harder for consumers to include as much meat in their weekly shop. Also, many customers have also traded down from more premium cuts of meat to cheaper products, such as minced beef.

Just under 22% of respondents said they had reduced their meat consumption because of the price, according to a Key Note-commissioned survey, carried out in January this year.

A lack of supply of beef, the UK’s second most popular type of meat, due to increasing demand from developing nations such as the People’s Republic of China, has pushed up its price worldwide.

Other types of meat can be said to have benefited from this to some degree, but the prices of lamb, pork and poultry, for example, have also been creeping up.

While the long-term effects of the horsemeat scandal were perhaps not dramatic as many first feared, it has contributed to gradually decreasing demand, said the report.

In Key Note’s survey – taken one year after the horsemeat scandal – 12.3% of UK consumers still said they had continued to reduce their meat consumption due to negative media coverage of the meat industry in the past 12 months.

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