The NFU has welcomed the commitment from retailers who have publicly stated their intention to continue to source British now and in the future. British facing refers to the percentage of products available on the shelf to consumers that are given to British and Red Tractor labelled products.
While beef was hit hard in the spring as restaurants and pubs closed, the retail beef category has been the strongest performing protein category in 2020, benefiting from changing shopping behaviour as a result of Covid. Total beef retail volumes (Jan – Sept) were up by 12%, while volumes in the out of home market have fallen by 36%.
With more households working from home, or on furlough, scratch and batch cooking methods continue to be popular, which has lead to sales of beef increasing by 9.7% and volume by 4.8% in the 12 weeks to 1 November, according to AHDB’s GB household beef purchases.
In particular, steaks, roasting joints and mince are driving these increases. Butchers have also benefited from Covid, with a 30% volume uplift being reported by Kantar (w/e 6 Sept 2020).
The latest AHDB beef and lamb shelf watch figures also look positive, with Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons and Waitrose continuing their commitment to source 100% British beef. British facings remain high too, at 86% across the market.
Asda also announced its plan to move to 100% British beef. To view the NFU reaction, click here
Food service, particularly pubs and restaurants are a critical market for lamb sales, so with lockdown 1.0 affecting the Easter trade, volumes of lamb took a huge knock. However, as takeaways have begun to come back online, volumes seem to be largely protected. From 1 January to 6 September 2020, the estimated total retail and out of home lamb volumes increased by 1%, according to AHDB.
According to AHDB, GB household lamb purchases in the 12 weeks to 1 November rose by 14.9%, with volumes up by 10.9% across all lamb products except stewing. Roasting joints made the greatest contribution to volume growth, with gains for both leg and shoulder. Mince also continues to drive growth with more shoppers buying this cut than in 2019.
The NFU is pleased to see the latest AHDB beef and lamb shelf watch figures show an increase of British lamb facings from Asda (6%) compared to November 2019 and +38% since August 2020.
While Tesco British lamb facings have fallen by 10%, this appears to have had little effect on the total market, as Sainsbury's, M&S and Asda all increased British facings compared to Nov 2019.
Iceland tends to vary greatly its number of lamb facings – the retailer does not stock many fresh lamb products. This means any change in British facings can easily skew data. As Iceland only accounts for between 0-1% of fresh lamb sales (Kantar), the decline of 72% of British facings since August 2020 has not affected the total market, although they are up from 0% to 4% year on year. Iceland's frozen lamb is not covered in the survey.
M&S also committed in November 2019 to move to 100% fresh British lamb by June 2020. They have achieved this, with 100% British lamb on shelf in November 2020.
The NFU continues to ask retailers to do all they can to find opportunities to support farmers post Brexit, particularly in the UK red meat market.
There is still significantly more opportunity for the industry to keep customers buying red meat: inspiring with new product development, innovating dishes and meal occasions, communicating value to budget-conscious shoppers and maintaining havan effective presence in the growing online market.
More from NFU online:
- The Welsh way: beef, sheep and climate change
- Coronavirus: how are farm assurance schemes affected?
- NFU welcomes Morrisons' extension of 'For Farmers' range into eggs