Primary pork no longer UK's top-performing red meat

Consumers trading down for more affordable options
calendar icon 11 September 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

As of July, primary pork is no longer the best performing red meat in the UK. According to a recent AHDB report, consumers have traded down in favour of more affordable options in an attempt to save money.

Primary pork cuts include steaks, roasting joints and mince.

The primary pork market value has grown 10.2% year-on-year to £800m ($999.53m), according to Kantar. This is 1.8% ahead of the year-on-year increase for total grocery over the same period.

This value growth is driven by inflation, as average primary pork prices rose by 15.7% year-on-year to £5.71/kg ($7.13/kg) but volumes sit 4.7% lower over the same period (Kantar, 52 w/e 09 July 2023), continuing the 52 w/e declines seen since November. Whilst new shoppers are typically younger, the majority of sales come from older shoppers, so it remains key to mobilise repeat consumers.

Due to the large number of processed pork options, primary pork makes up a small portion of total pork volumes, at 14.9%. However, it is one of the cheapest proteins, coming in at £1.50/kg cheaper than the average for total primary meat, fish and poultry (mfp). However, we are now beginning to see primary pork’s retail performance slip and its YOY volume decline outpace beef (Kantar, 52 w/e 9 July 2023).

“This comes as the cost-of-living crisis causes consumers to trade down to cheaper products like mince and sausages, and cheaper proteins like chicken, as well as limiting their meat consumption altogether in an attempt to save money," said AHDB trainee analyst Tom Price. "Consumers switching to primary chicken accounted for 26.2% of all primary pork volume losses YOY, as chicken is the cheapest protein on the market at £4.81/kg."

“Messaging on how pork can be used in tasty and affordable meals could help to boost sales. These are key points within AHDB’s Mix up Midweek campaign," he added. 

Pork’s lower price point compared to other red meats stands it in a good position within the market. This means that over the coming months we could continue to see primary pork’s retail volume declines limited when compared to beef and lamb.

As the cost-of-living crisis will continue into the festive period, we could see increased demand for pork at Christmas as pork roasting joints are approximately 50% cheaper than that of beef and lamb.

“Retailers looking to boost primary pork sales could also promote the health credentials of pork through highlighting how pork is high in protein, a source of zinc and B vitamins including B12," Price added. "This could encourage consumers to purchase pork, especially when combined with messaging around primary pork’s affordability.”

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