Beef and dairy sales surged at Christmas, retail figures show

Beef benefitted most from the uplift in red meat sales during the festive period
Beef benefitted most from the uplift in red meat sales during the festive period

Last year saw the strongest Christmas growth ever for the grocery retail sector - with dairy and red meat enjoying some of the best sales on record.

Food and drink sales grew by £912m to £8.1 billion during festive period, according to figures by Kantar Worldpanel.

Grocery sales were up 11.7% year-on-year, making 2020 saw the strongest Christmas growth ever in retail – a stark contrast to the previous year when sales saw minimal growth.

Online was the big winner, with an extra £695 million spent in the 4 weeks to Christmas, benefitting those retailers with a strong online presence.

Figures show that it was a great period for the dairy sector, with sales up 14.1%, growing faster than the market. All categories saw strong growth.

Cheese volumes have been elevated throughout 2020, as households consumed more during lockdown, according to AHDB retail insight analyst, Grace Randall.

"Christmas provided an additional boost, with volumes rising 16.7% in December to 47k tonnes," she said.

"December is usually the biggest month for cream and [2020] was no exception. 13% of total cream volumes in 2020 was sold in December."

Red meat also enjoyed the best Christmas on record, out-performing both turkey and whole fish, retail figures show.

Roasting joints and gammon saw an uplift of £62m in the 2 weeks leading up to Christmas compared to the average 2 weeks of 2020.

All roasting joints saw volume growth, but gammon was bought by more households (26%) than any other Christmas cut.

Turkey remained an important part of Christmas, being the second most popular protein, but more households adopted the trend of buying smaller birds and crowns.

"With many Christmas gatherings this year being smaller than usual, it is no surprise that smaller cuts did particularly well," Ms Randall said.

"Despite shoppers buying smaller joints, an increase in the number of households buying roasting joints meant we still saw volume increases across most proteins."

Beef benefitted most and was the biggest contributor to volume growth (+1.4k tonnes), up 18 percent.

"This growth was driven by new shoppers as some consumers switched to beef roasting joints instead of turkey," she added.

"This is the culmination of a strong year for beef, increasing its popularity, taking its share up to 15% of roasting and whole cuts."