Morrisons meat

Meat sales held steady in January despite the influence of meat-free movement Veganuary, which saw around 168,000 people globally pledge to go vegan for 31 days.

While chilled meat, fish and poultry sales were significantly down in both value and volume on the indulgent Christmas period, Veganuary appeared to have minimal impact year on year, with volume sales of meat falling 0.5% compared with January 2017, and value sales grew by 0.7%, according to Nielsen Scantrack [4 w/e 27 January 2018], which gathers data from the mults, convenience, independents and symbols.

A similar trend was evident in dairy, with 0.3% less product leaving shelves than the same period last year as value sales of milk, butter, cheese, spreads and yoghurt grew 3.7%, driven by inflation.

Of animal-based products, eggs alone saw an increase in volume sales in January, shrugging off the after-effects of the fipronil scandal to grow 1.9% in volume and more than 3% in value.

Part of the boost came as a result of the FSA’s updated advice to confirm it was safe for vulnerable groups to consume runny eggs, said a spokeswoman for the British Egg Industry Council.

“A lot of people have cut back on meat, but fewer have gone vegan altogether, which benefits eggs,” she added. “Despite the rise of flexitarianism, the UK is still consuming more than 30 million eggs a day.”

The small losses incurred in meat and dairy do appear to have resulted in a corresponding gain among vegetarian and vegan alternatives, however. Amid myriad NPD to kick-start the healthy new year “the popularity of meat-free meals and vegan food options is on the rise and this year’s Veganuary was no exception,” said Helen Porter, client team leader at Nielsen.

“In the four weeks to 27 January 2018, value sales of meat substitutes (vegetarian and meat alternatives) enjoyed double-digit growth rates, up 18.6% compared to December 2017 (with volume sales up 17.5%), and an increase of 14.1% when compared to January 2017 (with volume sales up 7.6%).”

It follows reports that more than a quarter of evening meals no longer contain any meat or fish, with one in 10 shoppers buying a meat-free ready meal last month, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

The trend was hammered home as Quorn posted record sales in 2017 with demand for meat-free diets fuelling a 16% spike in its turnover to hit a record £205m.