This is reflected in the latest data from Kantar, which revealed that the value of beef retail sales in the UK in 2019 continued to fall, driven primarily by a decline in volume but also by a slight decline in the average retail price of beef.
In 2019, the total value of beef sales hit £2.99bn down 1.8% from an overall spend of £3.0bn during 2018 (Kantar, 52 w/e 29 December 2019).
During 2019, the volume of retail beef sales in the UK totalled 386,745 tonnes (t), a decline of 1.2%, meaning 4,641 fewer tonnes of beef were sold through major UK retailers
The usually popular roasting joints saw a drop off in sales of 7.6% between 2018 to 2019. However, the data showed that there was a 5% increase in the volume sales of mini roasting joints of beef or ‘weekday roasts’ during 2019.
There were also declines in the volume of stewing beef, as well as burgers and grills. There were increases in the volume sales of mince (+2.1%) with healthy mince (up to 5% fat) now having the largest share of the market, accounting for almost half of all spend in the sector, according to Kantar.
The Livestock & Meat Commission, which reported on the Kantar statistics in its weekly bulletin, said: “UK beef sales have undoubtedly been impacted by the shift in some consumer habits towards lifestyle choices like vegetarianism, veganism and flexitarians.
“However, it is important to note the well-financed and vocal vegan lobby and activist groups, while perceived to being effective, are having a limited impact on the overall consumer base with the latest Kantar data indicating that 86% of households purchased beef during 2019, only back marginally from 87% in 2018.”
Kantar’s data also revealed that consumers cut back on the excesses over the Christmas period.
In the 12 weeks to 29 December 2019, Kantar revealed that the decline in beef was once again driven by shoppers buying fewer roasting cuts (-8%) and mince (-4%).
Chicken remained in healthy volume growth, but increased promotions (22%) were subsidising some of this growth and holding back value sales, Kantar added.