Cash-strapped shoppers are increasingly turning to the discounters to buy fresh meat, new research has revealed. In the 12-week period to 10 August, purchases of fresh meat from discounters were up 17% by volume year-on-year, according to an AHDB Meat Services report. Consumer spending on fresh meat in discount stores rose 25% to £14.5m.

The discounters – Aldi, Lidl and Netto – carried a much more restricted range of fresh meats than larger multiples but tended to stock cheaper cuts, according to the report. Beef mince, second-grade stewing beef and pork chops made up the majority of fresh meat lines across the discounters, with mince driving the increase in beef sales and chops driving pork. Of the three main discounters, Lidl had the greatest share of the fresh meat category, with sales up 47% in value.

By contrast, many of the leading supermarkets sold less fresh meat over the same 12-week period compared with a year ago, according to TNS data cited in the report. Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Somerfield all saw volume sales down at least 4%, with Iceland’s volume sales down 14% and the Co-ops down 23%. Only Waitrose (up 4%) boosted volumes. The biggest players had responded with price promotions on meat, the report said. An independent survey during August and September by Bpex and Eblex showed that of the discounters Lidl had the greatest percentage of UK fresh beef, while Aldi had the greatest percentage of fresh British pork.

“In the grand scheme of things, in terms of market share of fresh meat sales, Lidl and Aldi are not a threat to the big UK retailers, but do provide serious competition to the likes of Iceland and other low-cost multiples,” said Sue Fisher, senior market analyst at AHDB.

The AHDB research also found that those consumers who bought their fresh meat from discounters were older consumers with no children living at home.