The figures published by UK red meat body AHDB Beef & Lamb, using Kantar Worldpanel data based on household panel surveys, said there had been a continuation in the decline of household purchases of premium cuts of beef. However, the ground beef market, which mainly covers mince and burgers, remained strong.
In the UK household purchases of fresh beef have declined marginally in the first five months of 2015. The market for burgers and grills has continued to recover after the 2013 horsemeat scandal, with volumes up by 6% between January to May 2015, compared with a year earlier. Promotions and increased shopping at discounters are all now very important factors when driving meat purchases.
The largest beef market in the EU has seen a decline in household purchases of cuts of beef (excluding mince) in 2015. Volumes were down -4% in January to May 2015, and had declined by similar amounts in each of the previous four years. Consumer budgets remain under pressure and so expenditure was down by as much as -5% with a -1% decline in the average price.
Frozen ground beef, which includes burgers and steak hachée, saw a rise of over 1% in volume purchases in the year to May. This was similar to the increase recorded last year as a whole, when the market was recovering from the horsemeat scandal of 2013. Total ground beef purchases in January to May 2015 increased by as much as 4%.
There was no consumer panel data in Italy for 2015, but market reports indicate that demand for beef has remained weak. Volume purchases actually increased by 2% in 2014, but this should be seen in the context of declining volumes in the previous five years. Consumers continue to focus on cheaper cuts and lower-priced imported beef and, as in other member states, are targeting cuts that are on promotion.
In Spain volume purchases continued to decline in the first five months of 2015 at 2%. However, that is an improvement, as between 2009 and 2014 the annual rate of decline had averaged almost 5%. There are indications that the recovery in the Spanish economy is gaining some momentum, which should eventually provide some support to the beef market.
Household demand for beef in Germany started to pick up in the second half of 2014 and has gained some momentum in the first five months of 2015. Purchases were up by almost 1% last year as a whole, with further growth of almost 5% recorded in the first five months of 2015. The market was helped by some pick-up in the German economy and that retail beef prices having been lower year-on-year. In the first six months of 2014 and in 2013 and 2012 volume purchases had been lower year-on-year.