Two in five adults who red eat meat have switched to alternatives like poultry to save money, while nearly half limit the frequency of eating red meat because they see it as expensive. Reflecting this responsiveness to prices, the red meat sector has come under pressure in recent times.
Estimated value growth of 21% over the 2005-10 period saw the red meat market reach £3.5 billion in 2010. However, volume growth over the same period stood at an estimated 5%, the market reaching 630,000 tonnes in 2010.
Cost pressures in 2008 and 2009 fuelled rapid retail price inflation across most segments in the red meat market, which, together with the recessionary pressure on consumer spending, saw demand in volume terms fall in 2008 and 2009. This reversed much of the growth enjoyed by the market thanks to the cold summer in 2007.
Beef continues to dominate red meat, capturing just over half of the market in both value and volume terms. Pork has gained share in the recession, seen as the better value alternative in red meat, to capture just over a quarter of sales by value. The premium-end positioning of lamb has seen it lose ground to capture less then £1 in every £5 spent on red meat, strong export demand contributing to the high prices.
According to exclusive research, around one in twenty UK adults do not eat meat at home. Of the 94% that do, more men eat meat than women, while penetration rises with age, C2s, larger households, and those with under-tens being among top users.
Beef, pork and lamb stand close together in overall usage, eaten by more than four in five adults, offal and veal lagging far behind. Beef holds a strong lead by frequency, one in five eating it at least twice a week.
Two in three meat-eaters (69%) see quality as a very important choice factor. Its lead ahead of price at second place (52%) suggests that while consumers are price-aware, their key focus is value for money.
Special offers are very important to two in five, and unimportant to just 15% of meat eaters, while only a minority see any other factors, such as ease of preparation, provenance or animal welfare, as very important.
In terms of distribution, grocers capture some 86% of the market for red meat, reflecting the role of red meat as a menu staple and a convenient part of the weekly shop. Meanwhile, the sharp value positioning of the grocers continues to pile pressure on the butchers, less convenient for many and less well positioned to offer high profile promotions, important to most shoppers.