2019 has been a difficult year for Beef farmers with prices falling sharply in the Spring and flatlining in the autumn with plenty of cattle supplies available to Processors throughout the year.
Beef Processors have maintained throughout the year, that consumers are swapping their ‘Protein source’ from beef to other products. However, using the AHDB website and recent figures from Kantar, the volume of beef consumed has only fallen 1.4% in 2019 which when you consider all the negative media press of Co2/beef eating and celebrities promoting Vegan lifestyles this figure maybe concluded as a success. Furthermore, for the past five years, beef volumes have only fallen -0.4% and total beef sales have actually increased by +1.2% over this period due to the success of increased sales of mince beef.
Mince Beef, a flexible product used in various meals, has seen purchases UP +0.3% and total volume sales UP +3.1%. even though the price of beef has dropped to £5.44/kg. The ‘Healthy lifestyle’ message now part of consumers purchasing choices has seen Lean mince (5% fat) sales grow by 26% year on year which equates to nearly 50% of all beef products sold. However, Processors are reporting higher % of fat (VL85%) have seen disappointing sales due to warmer temperatures with less ‘steak pie’ meals being purchased.
After the hot weather in 2018 when people went BBQ crazy and sales of burgers and beef for the grill shot up. Unfortunately, this year it hasn’t been really been BBQ weather with figures showing volumes sold DOWN -4.7% and the spending also dropping -2.2% compared to 2018. It isn’t all doom and gloom for the burgers, BBQ occasions are still on the rise over a five-year average with burgers featuring at 31%.
At the end of 2019 Beef Farmers ought to conclude that they are producing a product that the ‘British Consumer’ has trust in, the population continues to expand asking for higher food volumes. Cattle supplies are expected to reduce in 2020 together with a reduction in carcass weights will tighten up supplies for Processors. Now is the time to ‘brand’ UK beef as being predominantly a grass-fed product differing from other countries Beef and ‘after Brexit’ following the election a ‘UK stamp’ on the carcase may increase export orders!