Easter lamb volume drops, but fish swims ahead of competition

Lamb volume sales over Easter declined year-on-year as the overall meat, fish and poultry category saw a “less impressive” period for the holiday occasion compared to last year. 

Figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 23 April 2017 indicate meat, fish and poultry all experienced volume growth. However, with the exception of fish, the rest of the grocery market is undergoing more pronounced inflation, boosting value.

Kantar said that it expected an uplift in volume for traditional Easter categories but, whilst lamb and turkey have seen a volume decline, this has been softened by beef and chicken gains.

“Easter was an important event last year for primary meat and poultry, driving strong volume growth,” said Nathan Ward, business unit director for meat, fish and poultry at Kantar.

“This year has been less impressive and we’ve seen volume and value drop off. There’s been a real reversal in trends, with last year’s strong performer, red meat (and particularly lamb), seeing reduced volumes. Lamb has suffered the most over the Easter period seeing a strong decline driven by roasting cuts. In fact, roasts are driving the decline across proteins with the traditional meal centrepieces all suffering volume decline compared to last year.”

Fish experienced a different fate to its land-dwelling counterparts, with value growing ahead of volume. Ward said this can be attributed to inflation. “Rising prices aren’t yet affecting volume, which is up 0.8%, as shoppers make 2.5 million more trips to the category,” he explained.

“Natural fish has seen prices rise 13%, and volumes drop back as 430,000 fewer shoppers bought into the category compared to last year. Salmon and mackerel are the key contributors to the decline in natural fish; their prices increased ahead of the market, with salmon up 20% and mackerel up 15%.”

Added value fish products and shellfish also continue to help drive growth. Added value fish benefitd from 750,000 new shoppers combined with prices rising slower than natural fish. Meanwhile, falling prices for shellfish has helped attract 1.2 million more trips.

With good weather in April, sausages saw strong growth. An additional 450,000 houses bought sausages with 2.2 million extra trips made fuelled by barbecue occasions. The most active contributors to the sausage category were families and retired households. The category is being driven by sales not on promotion and Y for X promotions being used less and less - a practice witnessed across barbecue fixtures.

Burgers are also in growth, but at a slower rate than sausages. Kantar predicts that, with most major retailers moving more barbecue lines in store, the barbecue season is expected to begin in earnest, and start having an impact on the core markets over the next few months.

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