UK: Pork consumption trends in 2022
While consumers are hoping COVID restrictions are a thing of the past, the last 6 months have instead been dominated by significant economic challenges, with the cost-of-living crisis being forefront for many. High food price inflation in both retail and foodservice has resulted in market volumes suffering as inflationary behaviours kick in. The meat sector is particularly impacted, being a higher priced food category, with 35% of people who ate less red meat in the past month claiming expense as the reason for cutting back compared to only 16% last year, overtaking environment as a reason, and now on par with health.
However, in retail pig meat benefits from having a low average price compared to other proteins, 7% lower than total meat, fish and poultry (Kantar, 52 w/e 12 June 2022). This means pig meat volumes in retail, while down -6.8% in the last year is still the strongest performing red meat. It is also the only red meat not to have lost sales compared to pre-COVID in 2019.
In the last year in retail, primary pork has seen volume declines of -10.4% (accounting for 24% of pig meat losses) with roasting accounting for just over half of this. Processed pork, while declining slower at -7.4% accounts for significantly more pig meat losses at 62% contribution. Despite sausages and bacon being seen as highly enjoyable and practical, and a staple during the pandemic, both categories have lost shoppers and frequency in the last year.
Out-of-home (OOH) pig meat is highly reliant on processed products – top dishes include sausage rolls and sandwiches – meaning food-to-go (FTG) is particularly important. While the eating-out market has started to recover with more consumers venturing back out for meals, pig meat has seen the slowest recovery year-on-year (+52%) as its reliance on FTG is impacted by continued working from home post-COVID. We predict FTG will continue to suffer as it is discretionary spend. Takeaway/delivery remains a positive for the sector and continues to grow in the last year for pig meat, up 20%. However, despite growth year-on-year AHDB estimates that for total out-of-home volumes are still down 8% on 2019 levels.
Consumer spending ability is going to dictate behaviour going forward. This will not only impact retail but will also slow down the out-of-home recovery as 36% claim they are planning on eating out less, with money saving being the top reason for this. Pig meat will benefit from a lower price point but that does not mean it is attainable for all. We also must consider the longer-term trend for pig meat seen before the pandemic, with volumes gradually declining as shopper concerns around health and industry reputational factors such as the environment and animal welfare increased, although this is now in the wider economic context.
For this reason, pig meat volumes via retail are predicted to continue to slow during the second half of 2022. While levels have been tracking either in line or above 2019 for the last 12 months we do expect it to start tracking below towards the back end of the year. Positively, roasting joints and processed pork may benefit from a boost at Christmas, especially among the more budget focused. OOH we predict recovery will slow and be slower than other red meats due to pig meat’s reliance on FTG. However, the takeaway and delivery market offers an opportunity as this will remain buoyant.
As a result, with eating-out not returning to pre-COVID levels and retail sales of red meat potentially starting to suffer again, overall pig meat volumes for 2022 are expected to be down -2% versus 2021 and down -1% versus 2019.
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