Pundits are constantly telling the industry that the traditional sit down family dinner is being rapidly eroded by grazing, demographic shifts and lifestyle revolutions, not to mention food scares. Why then is the purchasing of beef roasting joints so steady? This would be easily explicable in catering, but latest Taylor Nelson Sofres figures show retail shoppers are still buying 30% of their beef as joints for roasting. Roasting joint sales were clobbered in the BSE crisis of the mid '90s, shrinking by nearly half between 1994 and 1997, but volume sales have since recovered to almost the same volume as a decade ago. The changing habits at the dinner table and particularly in the domestic kitchen are reflected in the loss of shopper interest in stewing beef. But the resilience of more or less traditional cooking and serving rituals is also partly demonstrated by the mince settling at about 40% and steak not moving much above 15%. Butchery technicalities and carcase composition are obviously constraining influences, but conservative demand definitely plays a part. {{M/E MEAT }}

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