UK: red meat, dairy retail volumes up on pre-pandemic Christmas

Cheese saw the strongest volume increase on 2019 levels
calendar icon 18 January 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Once again, Christmas provided a positive lift for grocery sales, reaching £11.7 billion over the month of December, wrote Grace Randall, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Retail Insight Manager, in a recent AHDB report.

Citing data from Kantar, she said spending was down just 0.2% on record 2020 sales. Despite fewer restrictions than last year, many people still chose to celebrate at home due to increasing coronavirus cases.

Total meat, fish and poultry saw declines in both value and volume in comparison to last Christmas, but both are up on 2019 levels. During December, 98% of households purchased MFP, resulting in huge retail value of £1.9 billion, according to Kantar data.

Money spent on the red meat category was up 2.2% year-on-year in the 4 weeks ending 26 December 2021, compared to a slight spend decline for total grocery. This growth was driven by increases in average price through the premium tier, as overall volumes saw a decline year-on-year.

Most proteins saw roasting joints or whole cut volume declines on the heights of 2020 with lamb being the exception, up 0.9% on last Christmas.

Both pork and lamb roasting joints saw volume growth this December in comparison to Christmas 2019. Pork saw shopper numbers increase by 13.3% compared to 2019, with the main driver of growth coming from new shoppers to pork roasting joints. For lamb, volume growth was driven by repeat shoppers increasing the amount they bought.

Beef roasting joints had a particularly strong Christmas 2020 but was unable to reach the same heights this year. However, total beef was in growth in comparison to 2019 with growth coming from more everyday cuts such as mince and burgers.

Retail sales of cow’s dairy reached £900 million in December, with 99% of households buying dairy products, according to Kantar data. Volumes were down 5% from the heights of 2020 but remained up 5% on 2019 levels.

Cheese saw the strongest volume increase on 2019 levels. Growth versus pre-pandemic was driven by shoppers buying more cheeses such as cheddar, paneer and mozzarella. Year-on-year there was growth for extra mature and vintage cheddars and Red Leicester; however, other cheeses struggled, particularly soft continentals and mild cheddar.

Cream is always a Christmas favourite, with December accounting for 13% of all cream sales in 2021. However, despite growth in Christmas desserts such as mince pies, fresh cream volumes were down 3.1% year-on-year. However, aerosol and alcoholic creams saw growth. Compared to Christmas 2019, volumes of cream were up as existing shoppers bought larger quantities.

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