Early evidence of diners trading up to steak as pubs and restaurants reopen

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Despite closures in the foodservice market, strong retail sales led to an overall 7% volume increase for total beef in the six months to 9 August, according to AHDB estimates based on Kantar data.

Retail volumes

Over the 24 weeks ending (w/e) 9 August, retail sales volumes of beef rose by 18% (48kt) – ahead of the total food and non-alcoholic drink uplift of 14%. The pre-lockdown period in March led to a huge spike in mince volumes. But it wasn’t all down to mince, with growth across a variety of cuts and products. An increase in promotional activity led to a recovery for retail sales of steaks during May, while retail sales of burgers grew by 34% (+11kt) for the 24-week period, partly due to an early start to barbecue season.

Out of Home volumes (including takeaways)

The return of big fast food brands in June helped lift takeaway volumes of beef. However, dine-in closures between March and July led to estimated beef out-of-home volumes declining by 52% (25kt).

Steak overall losing slightly

Foodservice is hugely important for steak volumes, therefore lockdown had an acute impact on the sector. While retail sales volumes for steak were up every month over the past six months, out-of-home losses amounted to an average of 1,200t per month, between 23 March (when lockdown began) and 12 July. On average, AHDB estimates that overall (retail and out-of-home) steak volumes were down 200t (-1%) in the 24 w/e 9 August.

However, there was an uplift for steaks when pubs and restaurants reopened indoors during July. When excluding takeaways, estimated steak volumes were ahead of beef burger volumes in the 4 w/e 9 August, with an estimated 700t of steak and 600t of beef burgers sold. This is against the typical pre-coronavirus pattern, where burger volumes tend to exceed steaks by 57% (52 w/e 29 Dec 2019).

This could be evidence that consumers are trading up when returning to pubs and restaurants for the first time since before lockdown. It has also been reported that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which started on 3 August (and is therefore included in one week of this data, to 9 August) is encouraging people to opt for steak, as it offers diners up to £10 off per meal. Our next update, in four weeks’ time, will assess whether more volume can be recouped and if this evidence of trade up to steak has continued.

Read more about how beef compares to other categories in our main update.

Out-of-home volumes include takeaway, dine-in and on-the-go.
Out-of-home does not capture pizzas and unspecified beef dishes, estimated to account for c.10% of out-of-home beef volumes
Public Sector (e.g. schools, hospitals) not captured