UK consumers switching to cheaper beef cuts

There has been strong volume growth in beef in the UK over the last 12 weeks, driven by minced beef according to new research.

EBLEX, which conducted the research, noted that this growth has been helped by promotional activity, with 50% of mince beef sold ‘on offer’. The research also shows that there have been notable dips in both roasting (-3%) and stewing (-14%) over the past 12 months. Beef roasting joints have gained in price at a faster rate than other proteins and this may be proving a barrier for price conscious consumers. Stewing has also seen a notable decline within older/smaller households.

Over the past year, volume purchases of beef have come under increased pressure. This came from two key areas, the first is consumers buying in smaller quantities (accounting for around 79% of volume decline). Combined with consumer switching into lower priced proteins like pork and chicken (particularly frozen).

The research also examined the share of volume purchases across the age groups. It found that beef lends itself towards households under 45 (accounting for 32% of purchases). However, the profile within the cuts can differ.

Roasting joints are more popular with older consumers, while mince is popular with younger consumers. That said, mince volumes to ‘older dependent’ and ‘retired’ households remain important to the category.

EBLEX says volume movement by age group can differ quite notably. Over the past year, the majority of the reduction in beef volumes is attributed to buyers over the age of 65. With roasting and stewing occasions visibly impacted by reduced purchases.

Shoppers remain heavily price focused just under half are aware that red meat has become more expensive. In particular, there were rises (+4%) in people stating they don’t eat beef roasting joints on a regular basis because of cost reasons (42%).

The research outlines that roasting joints have struggled in the last 5 years, currently accounting for 36% of beef volume decline. Increased desires for consumers to prepare quicker, simpler meals has put pressure on the traditional ‘roast’ meal occasion.

The UK remained the dominant market for Irish beef in 2013 with shipments amounting to 250,000t or 53% of total exports valued at around €1.1 billion.

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