There was a pocket of positivity in the latest retail data from Kantar Worldpanel, covering the 12 weeks to May 20.
Sausage sales returned to growth, with volumes up 4.5% year-on-year. This translated into a nearly 8% growth in value terms, as average prices also increased. The sausage market has no doubt benefitted from recent good weather, encouraging consumers to use their barbeques.
Unfortunately, this level of growth was not reflected in the wider pig meat sector. Bacon sales remained virtually stable on the year, while volumes of ham sold recorded a modest decline. Fresh and frozen primary pork fell back too (-4% year-on-year), although rising prices ensured modest growth continued in value terms. This trend may have also been influenced by the warmer weather, as consumers turn away from roasts.
Sales of leg roasting joints were down 3% in volume, despite falling prices, while volume sales of loin roasts were down nearly 30% year-on-year. However, the latter trend was also likely influenced by a substantial (30%) rise in average retail prices.
While traditional barbeque products were the primary winners in the latest retail figures, other proteins were more successful achieving sales growth in the primary meat sector. Fresh and frozen beef sales were up just under 1% on 2017 levels, whereas primary poultry sales rose nearly 5% in volume terms. Price cuts and promotional support reportedly aided chicken sales during the period.
While the latest period does have some positive news for the pork sector, there is clearly still room for improvement. With the warm weather continuing, sausage sales may continue to benefit, but equally challenges could remain for other products if consumers shift towards lighter meals. As such, the outlook for demand overall looks somewhat uncertain this summer.