UK: Lamb products felt the love this Valentine’s Day


Does Valentine’s Day still have a place in the hearts of UK shoppers? When questioned, just over a third of Brits said they were planning on celebrating this year, informs AHDB. And while the majority of those celebrating were planning on doing so with a romantic partner, a significant proportion (16%) said they would celebrate with family and friends (YouGov, January 2024), suggesting that perhaps romance isn’t the only driver of festivities for cupid’s day.

Posted on Mar 21 ,00:10

UK: Lamb products felt the love this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day fell on a Wednesday this year, and historically mid-week celebrations can be muted in comparison to those on a weekend due to busy lifestyles and work commitments. However, it was clear that shoppers still felt the love for the romantic holiday, as sales of flowers, cards and Valentine’s gifting increased to £174 million this year (NIQ Scantrack, Valentine’s Gifting Categories, Total coverage inc Discounters, 2w/e 17 February 2024).

Meat, fish, and poultry (MFP) are well associated with Valentine’s Day, and this year saw improved performance compared to Valentine’s Day 2023. Higher prices ensured that there was value growth, but increased demand for lamb and chicken also contributed to overall volume growth.

Earlier this year, AHDB predicted that beef steaks would be a standout option for many celebrating. This was correct, as overall volumes purchased in the 2 w/e 18 February increased by 7.6%  year-on-year, outperforming the total beef category which saw a slight decline.

Those who chose to indulge in steak this year seemed to be less constricted by budgets, as overall increases in purchases were driven by the more expensive cuts, with fillet, ribeye, and sirloin all seeing year-on-year increases. Shoppers switched into these more expensive cuts from rump steaks, which saw volumes purchased decrease by 14.3% year-on-year.

Rump and sirloin steaks were also seen to be featured heavily in many retailers’ meal-deal promotions. However, due to inclusions of butters in many of these packs, they are classified as an added-value marinade, rather than primary cut. When looking at beef marinade performance for this Valentine’s Day, volumes sold increased by 16.0% year-on-year. This volume increase came from both on and off promotion, which would indicate that new products may have played a part in this improved performance, and that promotions can be key in activating shoppers into different cuts.

Lamb is not classically associated with Valentine’s Day; however, this year saw volumes purchased increase by 5.7%, and outperform the total MFP market. A key driver of lamb’s performance was due to the success of added value products (such as marinated or sous vide products). These cuts saw an average price decrease of £1.52/kg (-11.0%) during the 2 w/e 18 February, and as a result, volumes purchased in the increased by 66.7%.  There was a small increase in volumes of stewing, leg roasting joints, and mince purchased in the 2-week period, however added value products accounted for the majority lamb’s growth this Valentine’s Day.

Added value products during the Valentine’s period saw a significant uplift compared with the average two-week period for the 52 w/e 18 February 2024 (excluding the 2 week lead up to Valentine’s Day), whereas overall primary and processed lamb products underperformed.

Overall, promotional activity was reduced for lamb this year (-4.7%) which may have impacted demand. However, added value saw volumes purchased increase both on and off promotion, indicating that new products may have had a role in this.

Chicken also saw volume growth, however there was a reduction in the number of shoppers purchasing chicken products versus Valentine’s Day 2023.

The Valentine’s period is a key time for promotional activity, and this year was no different. Year-on-year promotional activity for MFP increased, and when compared to the rest of the year (50 w/e 4 February 2024) promotions saw an uplift of 1.4ppts, highlighting that retailers see the importance of supporting these special events.

Meal deals are often opportunities for shoppers to indulge and create a three-course in-home meal occasion, similar to one they might experience in the out of home market, but on a budget. This year in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day £36 million was spent on meal deals costing £10 or more (Kantar, week ending 14 February 2024). While volumes sold on meal deal promotions in the 2 w/e 18 February 2024 increased compared with the rest of the year, they decreased by 1.8ppts on Valentine’s 2023, and any promotional growth seen came from temporary price reductions and Y for £X deals.

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