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Demand for Meat Falls in GB

18 August 2008

UK - In the Bulletin of 10 July we reported on the fall in consumer demand for beef and lamb in GB. According to a Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) bulletin, the latest household consumption figures for GB reported by the market researchers TNS show that demand for almost all categories of meat has fallen when the 12 weeks ending 13 July 2008 are compared with the equivalent period in 2007.

Increasing retail prices for meat due to higher production costs, combined with the credit crunch and the deteriorating economic outlook for the UK are the reasons for the drop in the volume of meat purchased. The total value of sales increased in all the categories, because of higher retail prices, but consumers were having to pay more to purchase less product.

Demand for beef and lamb falls

Demand for beef for the 12 week period ending 13 July 2008 decreased by six per cent compared to the same period last year to 60,710 tonnes. The average retail price was up nine per cent at £5.76/kg, which resulted in the total spend rising to £350 million. The total value of lamb sales grew by three per cent to £142 million for the same period, due to the average price rising 11 per cent to £6.54/kg. However, the volume of lamb purchased decreased by seven per cent compared to the same period last year.

Consumers go for cheaper cuts

The fall in demand for beef was particularly apparent for the more expensive cuts of beef. Sales of steaks fell by 17 per cent compared to the same period last year, while roasts dropped by 20 per cent. In contrast the volume of minced beef sold grew by five per cent. For lamb, the volume of shoulder roasts decreased by 28 per cent, while leg roasts fell six per cent. Minced lamb sales went against the overall trend and they increased by 13 per cent.

Less pork, bacon and poultry purchased

The volume of pork purchased decreased by three per cent as the average price increased 10 per cent to £4.80/kg. Total expenditure grew six per cent to £174 million. The amount of bacon sold dropped by four per cent, while expenditure increased by 10 per cent to £245 million, because of 14 per cent increase in the average retail price to £6.16/kg. Poultry sales dropped by one per cent, but an 8 per cent rise in the retail price to £3.87/kg led to the value of sales increasing by seven per cent to £461 million.

Sausage sales buck the market

The market for sliced cooked meat decreased one per cent in volume terms, because the average price increased seven per cent to £8.24/kg. Total sales grew seven per cent to £444 million. Sausages were the only product to experience rising sales in terms of volumes and values. The amount of sausages sold grew by two per cent even though the average price was up four per cent at £3.16/kg. Total expenditure on sausages increased six per cent to £135 million.

More Cattle Shipped to GB, Less Exported to ROI in 2008

The table opposite gives the number of NI cattle exported to ROI or sold to GB for direct slaughter in 2008. The number of finished cattle exported to ROI so far in 2008 (to week ending 9 August 2008) has dropped by 35 per cent to 7,590 head compared to 11,591 head in the same period in 2007. The DARD statistics do not split female cattle exports by category e.g. heifer or cows - LMC assumes that the majority of female finished cattle going to ROI are cows.

NI finished cattle shipments to GB so far this year have increased by 81 per cent compared to the same time in 2007. Shipments have risen from 1,560 head in 2007 to 2,830 head this year. Despite the increase over the past 14 weeks the average number of cattle sold to GB has only been 120 head per week, which is just under two per cent of prime cattle sales.

(head) GB ROI
Total finished cattle (2008 to date) 2,830 7,590
Prime cattle 2,830 1,190
Cows - 6,400
Weekly average for last 14 weeks
Prime cattle
120 (43 in 2007) 28 (44 in 2007)
Cows - 129 (225 in 2007)

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

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