Sales of minced meat are in strong growth as consumers trade down from more expensive cuts in the credit crunch.

Mince sales have grown 15.8% by value to £526m and 5.7% by volume to 144,000 tonnes in the last year [TNS 52w/e 2 November]. There has also been a 6% increase in consumption in the 12 months to May, the latest figures available.

Beef mince continues to dominate consumption within the category, having grown by 7%, and makes up over 92% of fresh mince spend. Turkey mince has also grown over the same period, albeit from a much lower base.

Minced meat was consumed on 1.2 billion occasions in the year to May. Market growth had been driven by more shoppers entering the category and consumers purchasing in greater volumes, said TNS analyst Jodie Harris.

Beef mince sales - which have been in steady growth since 2003 - have risen particularly sharply this year in spite of overall beef sales declining since the spring.

“I suspect what we’ve seen recently is a switch between the higher value cuts, such as steaks and joints, to cuts which offer better value for the consumer,” said British Meat Processors Association director, Stuart Roberts.

As Britain enters recession, mince is expected to remain popular, say suppliers. “With its versatility and value for money, growth is expected to continue and accelerate in the coming months,” said Richard Cullen from AHDB Meat Services.

Despite sales of value meat doing so well, meats at the top end have also held up, according to Anglo Beef Processors. “The mince market has seen exceptional growth in the economy sector, but the more expensive steak mince sales also remain strong,” said a spokesman.

The BMPA warned that the carcase balance needed to be maintained and stressed that not all meat could be sent for mincing. “You’ve got a whole carcase for sale and some parts are a bit too valuable to put in the mincer,” said Roberts.