Duck is flying off the shelf despite last month’s bird flu outbreak at an East Yorkshire duck farm.
In the last week of November - two weeks after the outbreak - Brits bought 225,820 ducks in supermarkets, 61.4% more than they bought in the same week in 2013, according to IRI data.
Across the past quarter, sales are up almost a fifth compared with 2013, with the mults selling 2.36 million birds in the 13 weeks to 29 November [IRI], up 18.6% on the same period last year.
The boom hasn’t come at the expense of value, with average unit price down only 1% year on year, from £5.19 to £5.13.
“Duck is a treat meat that many people like to eat but lack the confidence to cook,” said Gressingham Duck marketing director Steve Curzon. “The key to growth for duck has been to minimise risk and maximise appeal.”
He said products such as Gressingham Simply Duck, which comes with a sauce, had generated interest and trial, as had the development of more products that retail for £4 to £5, such as duck steaks and breast portions. Gressingham also launched its first ads for the brand this year.
“Duck is becoming less of a weekend luxury and more of an everyday meat,” said Stefan Porter, a former supermarket buyer and founder of retailer MeatPorter.com.
He suggested duck was perceived by consumers as a premium product compared with chicken and turkey.
“Duck is still comparably cheaper than steak but commands relatively the same value.”
Porter also said duck gave better margins than chicken, and had a steady year-round supply compared with seasonal turkey.
Six thousand ducks were culled on a farm owned by duck processor Cherry Valley in the village of Nafferton following an outbreak of the H5N8 strain of bird flu in mid-November.