Meat is a winner for family dinners

Thursday, 28 March 2024

Meat has risen in popularity within lunch and evening meals despite the continued pressure from rising food prices during the last year. The cost-of-living crisis also pushed more consumers towards alternative cuts to save money, and trends show people are making more versatile Italian and Meat Indian dishes for all the family to enjoy.

According to Kantar Usage panel, 53.1% of mealtimes feature Meat, Fish and Poultry (MFP) and 27.8% of our lunch and evening meal occasions feature red meat, up from 27.6% a year ago. Consumers are also more likely to choose mince or cheaper cuts to use as a key ingredient in their meal, rather than a primary cut with a higher price point.

Red meat features more in lunch and evening meals vs. 2022 and pre-pandemic

graph showing percentage of meals with pigmeat

Source: Kantar Usage, Red Meat at lunch and evening meal occasions, 52 w/e rolling, *including pizzas and ready meals with MFP presence


More consumers are choosing to include meat in their lunches compared to before the Covid pandemic in 2019, such as cooked meats, pies, pasties and sandwiches. The sandwich is still the number one choice for lunch, being chosen on over 35% of occasions and soup comes in second at 7.3% of occasions. Both of these options are quick, easy, filling and often cost effective, as they use cupboard and fridge staples.

image showing popular lunch occasions

Source: Kantar Usage, Total food at lunch, 52 w/e 26th November 2023

Evening meals

Evening meal occasions containing mince have increased during the last year we have also seen a rise in popularity of Italian dishes for families. These dishes provide a cost-effective way for families to have an affordable and nutrient rich meal that the whole family can enjoy.

image showing popular evening meal occasions

Source: Kantar Usage, Total food at evening meal, 52 w/e 26th November 2023


Kantar report that 25.3% of all beef dinner occasions are Italian, such as spaghetti Bolognese and lasagne (up 0.6 percentage points YoY) and half of these occasions are led by families. As convenience for evening meals also remains key, pies and pasties often fit the bill and beef burgers have proved ever popular at satisfying the desire for a tasty and filling meal.


Pork (including sausages and bacon) continues to be a popular choice for both lunch and evening meals, even more so now than pre-pandemic. Sausages and cooked meats are consumed most often and have grown in share since 2019. Sausages remain an all-round family favourite and are picked for both taste and enjoyment. Italian dishes with pork such as carbonara and pasta bake have also both seen growth year on year.

Pork* as % of lunch and evening meals is more important since 2020

graph showing meals containing red meat

Source: Kantar Usage, Pork* (including sausages and bacon) occasions at lunch and evening meal occasions, 52 w/e rolling


Lamb in lunch and evening meals has dipped in popularity since 2022 but has shown signs of recovery during 2023. Traditional meals with lamb such as lamb chops and shepherd’s pies have increased YoY in number of occasions due to their versatility and taste appeal. Lamb is a key ingredient amongst many curry dishes and is popular if cooked in bulk and with young families, as it is seen as a really tasty leftovers meal to consume later or freeze. This makes lamb a more affordable protein when using cheaper cuts to cater for large groups of people or for batch cooking.

Opportunities for red meat within in-home dining

There is a real opportunity for red meat growth within in-home dining if we can continue to highlight meals that are easy to prepare, are a natural source of protein, have high levels of iron, contain vitamin B12, are cost effective and are a key ingredient in a healthy balanced diet.

  • Highlight the growing trend of easy to prepare Italian dishes, especially lasagne, spaghetti bolognese and pasta bakes, which can all use beef, pork or lamb to bring out the natural taste for all the family to enjoy.
  • As the sandwich is the most popular meal consumed in the UK, this provides opportunities for sliced cooked meats and bacon, which can provide a quick and filling meal option.
  • Indian meals with lamb are very popular with all ages, so this provides an opportunity to experiment with a variety of curry recipes and increase the cooking repertoire.
Image of staff member Vanessa Adamson

Vanessa Adamson

Retail and Consumer Insight Manager

See full bio

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