LMC: Strong Retail Red Meat Sector Last Year

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - While the vast majority of Northern Irish (NI) beef is exported to Great Britain (GB) or mainland Europe, the retail beef and lamb market in NI remains a small but essential market for the NI industry.
calendar icon 16 April 2012
clock icon 3 minute read

With the retail volume sales of red meat market under pressure in recent months in GB, it is worth considering how the NI retail market is performing by comparison.

In terms of volume sales, the NI meat market generally has been under pressure over the last year (52 weeks ending 18 March 2012). According to Kantar data for NI, volume sales of all meats combined are down by nine per cent. The good news is that despite this decline in overall meat volumes, sales of beef and lamb have been relatively robust.

Volume sales of beef were up by almost one per cent in the 52 weeks ending 18 March 2012, and although lamb sales in NI fell by 3.4 per cent over the same period, this looks positively robust when compared with the 13 per cent decline in volume sales of other meats.

Perhaps the obvious reason for the reduced volumes is higher prices. The average retail beef price in NI rose by 11 per cent to £6.57/kg over in the year ending 18 March, compared to the previous year. The average retail lamb price rose by 13 per cent to £7.54/kg over the same period. By comparison however, the average price of all other meats rose by 80p/kg or almost 20 per cent to £5.09/kg. The rate of price increase for these other meats was clearly much stronger and that helps to explain the improved relative position of beef and lamb which is encouraging.

The net result of rising prices and reduced volumes sales meant that in the year ending 18 March total consumer expenditure on meat generally was up by six per cent, despite the nine per cent decline in sales. Over the same period, retail expenditure on beef and lamb rose by 11.3 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively. Expenditure on all other meats rose by a modest 3.4 per cent. These figures plainly show that in the NI retail meat market, beef and lamb demand is holding up very well, relative to other meats. Red meat has in fact eaten into the market share of some of those other meats over the course of the last year.

In terms of volumes, beef’s share of total meat sales increased from 28 per cent in the year ending 20 March 2011, to 31 per cent in the year ending 18 March 2012. Lamb’s share of the total meat market was steady at just four per cent of total volume sales in the last year. Beef accounts for just over a third of total retail expenditure on red meat.

In the 52 weeks ending 18 March 2012, beef expenditure accounted for 36 per cent of all meat sales, up from 34.4 per cent the previous year.

In the last year, 99.5 per cent of shoppers purchased meat. This figure was unchanged from the previous year. Despite strong performance in terms of volume sales and consumer expenditure, beef penetration in NI has been under pressure. The proportion of consumers that purchased beef has fallen by 1.5 percentage points to 92.2 per cent of consumers in the year ended 18 March 2012. The proportion of NI consumers buying lamb has fallen by 2.2 percentage points to 52.1 per cent in the last year.

Further Reading

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