Beef retail sales up on last year in boost to farmers

Consumer spending on beef is well above last year's levels
Consumer spending on beef is well above last year's levels

Retail sales of beef in Britain are still booming, as new figures show consumer spending on the meat is nearly 13 percent higher than last year.

In the 12 weeks to 1 November 2020, consumer spending on beef in Britain totalled £551m, up 12.6 percent on last year, according to Kantar figures.

Overall, during the first ten months of 2020, retailers sold 14.6% more beef than last year in terms of volume, with sales of premium cuts up even more (18.5%).

In 2019, 53.1% of beef bought by retail consumers in Britain was in the form of mince, rising to around 58% during the panic buying period in March.

In the most recent data, this figure has fallen to 51.9 percent, a development which will be seen as positive news for the British beef sector.

Currently, average prices for prime cattle at market are also well above the 5-year average.

Back in the spring, the beef sector feared for the future, as restaurants and hotels were forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Panic-buying shoppers bought lower-value products such as mince, leading to a serious imbalance in demand and unstable farm-gate prices.

Since then, marketing campaigns by the UK's red meat levy bodies, retailers and other industry groups, persuaded shoppers to try cooking restaurant meals at home.

This helped to stabilise the market, with retail sales climbing to levels well above last year.

Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) welcomed the new figures, saying it was 'reassuring to see beef performing extremely well'.

"The statistics on mince are noteworthy. Selling over half the total volume of beef at relatively low prices as mince has impacted the profitability of the sector during recent years," HCC data analyst Glesni Phillips said.

"The challenge now will be retaining the new customers who have been more adventurous in their home-cooking in recent months."

It comes as new figures show a £2.45 million uplift in British lamb sales following a six-week industry campaign.

The activity generated a return of £5.59 in retail sales for every £1 spent on the activity and 261 tonnes of additional fresh lamb.