Meat, fish and poultry (MFP) volumes have remained static in the 12 weeks ending 5th November, compared to last year, with chilled fish seeing the effects of inflation, which has hit all three categories.

Volume sales have increased by 1% in the overall grocery market and the primary MFP categories are “struggling”, with only the processed market growing volume overall, according to the latest data by Kantar Worldpanel covering the period.

Suppressed volumes have tipped the fish category into value decline, as chilled fish is seeing almost 100,000 fewer shoppers compared to last year, and is losing out as shoppers move their baskets to other proteins and meals.

Natural and smoked fish appear to be the biggest contributors to losses, losing 3.1 million and 2.2 million trips respectively.

Like-for-like inflation remains high in these two categories and prices are up significantly; natural fish increased by £1.86 per kilo, at 15.4%, on average, and smoked fish has marked a 9% increase, at £1.28 per kilo.

Nathan Ward, business unit director, for MFP, explained: “These increased prices are pushing consumers to reconsider what products they’re buying from the category, with salmon seeing the largest volume losses.

“Added value products have tipped into value and volume decline this period, with salmon – again – a key driver of the change in performance.”

Pork enjoyed a boost in both value and volume terms, with prices rising 2.1% and volumes 3%.
Ward added: “Having spent much of the last few years commenting on the decline of pork it’s great to see its renaissance!

“Pork has seen 290,000 more shoppers than last year, but the real driver of the growth is shoppers engaging with the category more often, picking it up on 2.1 million more trips this year.”

The AHDB Pork Midweek Meal campaign is cited by Ward as one of the reasons for pork’s performance, along with the “comparatively good value of the protein”.

“The big winners for pork are mince, marinated lines and frying/grilling which are all seeing value and volume growth,” added Ward.

Inflation has remained a “significant force” in the MFP category, driving up the price of red meat; like-for-like grocery inflation stands at 3.4%, recording its highest level since November 2013 and impacting the aforementioned categories with high like-for-like inflation.

Kantar Worldpanel added that the category is expected to experience a “good Christmas” season despite inflationary pressures, with head of retail and consumer insight, Fraser McKevitt, adding: “The British public is expected to shell out a whopping £28.7 billion at the grocers in the final 12 weeks of 2017.”