Weakened Demand For Beef In January 2011

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Following bumper sales of beef in December, there had been many anecdotal reports that demand for beef had weakened substantially in January.
calendar icon 25 February 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The latest Kantar data for GBretail sales in January confirmed that this was indeed the case with demand well down on December 2010 levels, and significantly lower than demand for the same period last year. Meat demand was down generally in January, with pork sales down on the previous year, and retail sales of lamb continuing to be in decline.

The decline in beef volume sales in January 2011 must be placed in context. Retail sales of beef in both January and December 2010 were unusually high, presumably boosted by the extremely inclement weather which drove consumers into the beef aisles. With milder weather this January, the latest beef demand figures do not compare favourably in comparison. In this respect demand over the four week period ending 23rd of January was bound to be substantially lower when compared to the previous month and the same period in 2010. Consumers had just spent December stocking up on beef and perhaps it was only natural for households to compensate for that strong demand with reduced consumption in the following month.

Last month, demand was down by 12 per cent year-on-year, although with average retail prices up by two per cent, the decline in retail expenditure (-10%) did not match the decline in demand. Only 57.9 per cent of shoppers purchased beef according to the survey in January, down from 62.3 per cent last January.

These figures are quite negative, but the longer term 12 week picture is more positive with retail beef volumes and expenditure up by one percent on the same period in the previous year. This was despite a one per cent increase in price year-on-year. Beef was not the only meat sector which came under pressure during January. Sales of pork were down by one per cent year-on-year, despite a price decline of three per cent compared to January 2010.

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