weakness Persistent weakness in British households' demand for the traditional cuts and joints of beef is revealed in latest data from Taylor Nelson Sofres. There are persistent year-on-year shortfalls in both the quantity bought and the spending by typical shoppers. Wholesale market traders can point to abundant imports, especially from South America. Intermittent promotion by the multiples is also a disturbing influence. Yet the TNS figures seem to prove discounting has not tempted consumers to buy more carcase beef. Bargain basement pricing might be expected to reduce overall expenditure even if demand remained firm, but in these circumstances purchased volume would increase. In retail pork neither modest pricing nor health or culinary attractions are pulling in the punters. The latest declines in purchases, 1.3% for beef and 0.8% for pork in the four weeks to late April, are against substantial declines for the same period last year. Pig producers and processors have the consolation of knowing the market welcomes added value offers. For beef, buoyant sales of pies and puddings are perhaps not surprising, as this corner of the market would be the logical dumping ground for much of the surplus commodity in the wholesale trade. Yet beef ready meals, commonly cited as the most promising performers in the sector, fared poorly. {{MEAT }}

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