Did pork win Christmas?

Pork was the big winner meat-wise over Christmas, with aggressive promotions and low prices boosting sales, new data shows.

Although value sales rose across many meat and poultry categories as a result of retail price inflation, pork was the only primary protein to see volume sales increase during the festive period - by 1.9% year on year to 12,278 tonnes [Kantar Worldpanel 4 w/e 5 January 2014].

During the same period, volume sales of fresh beef fell by 2.1% year on year, chicken was down 4.4%, turkey was down 0.2% and lamb volumes decreased by 5.1%.

These volume losses were largely down to consumers buying less to offset higher retail prices, said David Swales, head of strategic insight at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

Across red meat and poultry, value sales rose by 4.6% year on year over the Christmas period, despite volume sales being down by 1.8%. “Retail price inflation has been slightly higher for meat than for the total food category,” said Swales.

By contrast, fresh pork has been relatively stable as far as retail prices are concerned, with value sales even dipping slightly, by 0.1%, despite volumes going up.

“Pork roasting joints have a lower price point than beef or lamb,” said Swales, adding that pork had become an even more attractive proposition over Christmas as some retailers had run prominent promotions on roasting joints.

Chicken remained the most popular meat during the four-week festive period, with volume sales of 25,495 tonnes. Fresh beef ranked second, at 22,244 tonnes, with pork coming third. Fresh turkey volume sales stood at 10,801 tonnes - slightly down from 10,821 tonnes last year - with value sales of £86,746,000, up from £80,384,000 [Kantar].