Health demands challenge red meat industry

The health-conscious consumer is creating a challenge for the red meat industry, according to the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). 

As a result, the number of meat-free solutions is on the rise, whilst meat-based meals are taking a dip. 

The levy board claimed that, compared to last year, the amount of red meat consumed during the week has dropped -1.2%, and -0.7% on the weekend. 

The popularity of the traditional roast dinner is the key reason consumption hasn’t dropped as much on the weekend. Consumer habits and lifestyles during the week impact the amount being consumed from Monday to Friday.

“Red meat loses importance in evening meals as the week progresses, perhaps due to households using up left-overs from the weekend roast at the beginning of the week,” commented Sukhvinder Gill, AHDB consumer insight manager.

“Friday features red meat the least and the British tradition of ‘fish on Friday’ is a key factor influencing this.”

On Fridays and Saturdays, takeaways and convenience meals are more popular as people want to take a break from cooking. The least amount of time spent cooking is on Friday evenings.

“Beef takes the least time to prepare, while pork takes the longest,” explained Gill.

“The challenge for pork and also lamb is to feature in more dishes and to provide inspiration for easy-to-prepare, healthy and tasty meals, especially during the week. This will be key to challenging the dominance of chicken midweek, and is the focus of the latest AHDB Pork marketing campaign.”

Meanwhile, AHDB highlighted that practicality is more important at the start of the week. This indicates that consumers demand easy-to-prepare and clear-up meals at this time. Of all the red meats, beef is considered the most practical, perhaps influenced by the versatility of mince, while pork is the least practical. The most popular pork meal is pork chops, followed by roast dinners.

“With health increasing in importance as a decision factor for meal choice, the challenge for red meat will be to retain its popularity when competing against vegetarian options and poultry; which are perceived as healthier and more versatile,” concluded Gill. “Quick and easy weekday meals, which are also healthy and tasty, will be key to ensuring red meat remains a relevant choice for consumers.”

To meet demands, AHDB Pork is currently carrying out a pork medallions campaign designed to address a need to promote the cut as quick and healthy. Moving forward, the levy board said there was a need to create more red meat evening meal occasions during Friday and Saturday evenings. 

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