Shoppers were also favouring more traditional and economical foods such as sausages, burgers and frozen chips as the economic slowdown kicked in, said Bpex consumer marketing manager Chris Lamb. The price of the basket is currently £85.70, still 15.8% up on a year ago, but 0.4% down on last month, providing further evidence meat prices peaked this summer and are now falling. Minced beef has been another economy-priced item on promotion recently as supermarkets compete to be seen as the cheapest.
Fresh lean beef steak mince has fallen 0.3% month-on-month, while minces generally have been selling well, according to Richard Cullen, category development manager at AHDB Meat Services. “One of the reasons we think that is happening is because people are buying fewer ready meals and are making meals at home instead,” he added.
Cash-conscious consumers have been flocking to buy mince, a spokesman for ABP confirmed. “The mince market has seen exceptional growth in the economy sector, but more expensive steak mince sales also remain strong,” he said.
Salmon fillet prices also fell an average of 2.3% due to promotions, with salmon sales reportedly up 500% during Sainsbury's Feed Your Family for a Fiver campaign.
This month’s biggest price rises were on pork chops, which went up 7% to £5.35/kg as a result of the tightening European pork supply. With only about half the pork chops on UK retail shelves coming from this country, their prices are more dependent on availability in European markets than other cuts of meat.
“If you took the big four, they would be doing a lot of promotion on pork chops, but a lot of them would be imported and with the pound’s performance against the euro, they’d be more expensive,” said Cullen. “I expect the price of imported product has gone up.”
Elsewhere, bacon prices began rising this month after several monthly falls, with an eight-pack of unsmoked back bacon up 0.8% to £2.40. The increase can be attributed to a more stable European bacon market, with lower volumes being produced in France and Germany leading to firmer prices, according to the Provision Trade Federation.
The price of a whole free-range chicken has risen 1% to £3.76 in the last month, reversing a drop in price in October. Following the surge in popularity of free-range earlier this year, prices began to fall as consumers switched to assured chicken rather than paying a higher price for free range, said British Poultry Council chief executive Peter Bradnock. Also up in price this month is organic beef mince, reflecting the difficulty organic suppliers have in offloading the entire carcase.