NEW retail figures a big rise in purchases of fresh beef as consumers indulged a taste for steaks over the summer.

GB retail data from Kantar Worldpanel for 12 weeks to August 9 shows consumers spending over half a billion pounds on beef, helping to offset the loss of business in the eating out sector due to Covid restrictions.

Total retail sales were £522.7 million, up 19.3 per cent on the same period last year, with consumers purchasing a total of 65,000 tonnes of beef (up 16.2 per cent).

Larger households and families with children saw a large increase in the volume of beef purchased. Households with three or more members bought over 20 per cent more beef than the same time last year, with larger households’ purchase of roasting joints up a remarkable 47.2 per cent.

Demand for beef mince, which saw a surge in March during pre-lockdown panic buying, was relatively stable – with purchases up just under 10 per cent on the year.

Consumers gave the thumbs-up, however, to campaigns encouraging them to try more adventurous beef recipes. Sales of steaks were 21 per cent higher than the same period in 2019, helped by retailer discounts. Roasting joints were slightly more expensive than last summer, but nevertheless saw a big growth in demand, resulting in consumers spending 34.7 per cent more on such cuts than a year ago.

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) welcomed the news and thanked consumers for their support for the domestic food sector during the Covid-19 crisis.

“The initial panic buying phase in the spring where we saw demand for mince for the freezer rather than other cuts, combined with the closure of pubs and restaurants, was a huge challenge for our farmers and processors,” said HCC data analyst Glesni Phillips.

“But the response has been fantastic from the consuming public. Kantar Worldpanel’s beef retail sales data, like its equally positive recent figures for lamb, show that the consumer has come back to fresh red meat as a healthy and nutritious choice for family meals.”

She added: “HCC, along with partners in England and Scotland and the major retailers, addressed the issue with a major campaign encouraging shoppers to try new recipes at home, and re-create the dishes they would have eaten in restaurants. HCC enacted several promotional campaigns during spring and summer to help the beef sector, including the popular ‘Meat the Challenge’ steak sandwich competition, and new recipe videos produced at home by celebrity chefs.

“The most positive aspect to these statistics are the sales of premium cuts such as roasting joints and steaks. For farmers and processors it was vital that these cuts, which previously would have been in high demand from the foodservice sector, were purchased by GB domestic consumers."