It may once have been the traditional Easter roast, but high prices and the warm weather mean Brits have been falling rapidly out of love with roast lamb, with sales plummeting more than a third this Easter.
Volume sales of lamb roasts stood at 4,936 tonnes in the eight weeks to 15 May, down 37% from the equivalent period last year [Kantar Worldpanel].
Other roasts also suffered this Easter, as the weather sent sales of burgers, sausages and pizzas soaring at the expense of more traditional Easter fare such as roast beef, chicken or lamb.
Sales of pork legs were down 9.5% year-on-year to 4,425 tonnes, with beef roasts down 8% to 9,381 tonnes and whole chicken down 5.4% to 37,666 tonnes. Grills and burgers were up 15.3% to 17,156 tonnes, while sausages were up 9.8% to 31,584 tonnes and fresh pizzas rose 10.1% to 12,601 tonnes.
"Roasting has not had a good Easter," said Richard Cullen, consumer insight manager at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. "You would have expected people to have barbecue meats and a roast, but the warm weather made them opt for just barbecue," he added.
To compound matters, lamb prices have soared recently, largely as a result of the sheep-breeding flocks in the UK and New Zealand becoming smaller.
Lamb roasts were 30% more expensive this Easter than last year and lamb steaks have risen 37p on average from £12.97/kg to £13.34/kg [AHDB].
As a result, lamb sales have fallen across the board slumping 14.4% to 80,294 tonnes in the year to 20 March [Kantar].
Although the industry had expected the high prices and good weather to have an adverse impact on sales, it had not anticipated a drop as large as 37%, admitted Cullen.
"We were expecting about 25%," he said.
There was just one roasting meat that bucked the downward trend in volume sales, according to the Kantar data sales of pork shoulder rose 11.3% year-on-year to 4,778 tonnes.
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