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Shoppers have started to move away from the proteins and meat cuts they turned to during the pandemic, with sales of staples such as chicken and beef starting to drop off, new Kantar data shows.

Buoyed by soaring demand from locked down shoppers for products such as mince, beef sales were up 7.8% over the 52 weeks to 9 August [Kantar], with chicken sales up 8.3%. The total fresh meat and poultry category grew by 7.1% in value terms, meanwhile.

But with the UK now emerging from lockdown, shoppers were now switching away from these family favourites, said Kantar client manager Justin Lines.

Year-on-year sales over the 12-week period to 18 April showed the fresh primary meat and poultry market growing by 4.1%, according to Kantar data, with beef sales up just 0.8% to £607.6m and volumes down by 3.8%.

The rate of growth for fresh chicken sales also slowed considerably, rising by just 2.9% to £574.3m over the same 12-week period, with volumes up by 2.1%.

Conversely, chilled fish sales were now “thriving”, said Lines, with total sales up 22% to £554.1m compared with the same 12-week period last year. Just under 250,000 more shoppers chose fish, with natural, smoked and added value lines driving the growth, he added.

Regaining its halo: meat & poultry category report 2020

Pork had good growth too, up 8.8%, while lamb sales recovered from a tough 2020 to record a 17.8% increase in value sales.

Meanwhile, classic BBQ also performed strongly, with burgers, sausages and bacon all gaining share of the processed meat market.

“We’re starting to see what will continue over the next year,” Lines said. “The proteins and cuts that we turned to during the pandemic will be the ones that have the harshest declines as we return to a new normal,” he added.

“Egged on by the introduction of the rule of six and with limited choices for socialising, we saw Brits took the opportunity to enjoy the sun in their gardens over recent weeks, giving a boost to processed meat,” he said.

“Looking to the future, we can expect this mixed picture to continue as sales compare against the unprecedented performance of last year.”

Growth would come from areas that previously struggled, such as lamb and chilled fish in the short term, he suggested. “Barbecues will [also] be a national favourite as they are well suited for outside social hosting gatherings, which look set to dominate summer.”

Meat, Fish & Poultry: Top Products 2020

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