Changing landscape for red meat, dairy and potatoes explored

Red meat, dairy and potatoes have all fared well throughout Covid-19, with grocery spend offsetting losses from food service closures during lockdown for most categories.

According to analysts at AHDB, the pandemic has led to a major shift in consumer buying and consumption behaviours, leading to changes in how people cook and feed their families.

AHDB predict that total potato volumes in the market, considering both retail and out-of-home, have risen eight per cent year-to-date, with grocery volumes of fresh potatoes up 108kt over the last six months and frozen potatoes 47kt. 

During the same period, pork, beef, lamb as well as most dairy products have also enjoyed a significant uplift in retail sales. For lamb, takeaway and delivery gains have also bolstered overall volumes, compensating for eating-out losses. 

AHDB senior retail insight manager Kim Malley said: “To say that this year has been a challenge would be an understatement but we have seen that meat, dairy and potatoes have made an incredible response to the shift in consumer demand.

“While eating-out has been severely affected by the pandemic and led to restaurants and cafes closing overnight, the retail spend on red meat, potatoes and dairy has been strong enough to offset many of the losses.”

These findings were revealed during AHDB’s first series of Consumer Insight webinars which looked at the changing market landscape for meat, dairy and potatoes. Over the course of the three days, more than 350 people joined the webinars to gain an overview of how the sectors have performed during an unprecedented year.

Analysts explained how cheese has done well with retail volumes up 16.5 per cent in the last six months. During the same period, butter was up 23.6 per cent, with cream stealing the show at 31.8 per cent. However due to category size milk accounted for three quarters of the volume growth.

In retail, beef and pork grew in line with the market, with beef up 12 per cent and pork rising 11 per cent. Lamb has seen smaller growth at 0.4 per cent, however, this covers a lockdown Easter and prior to Covid-19, volumes were down six per cent. 

Kim Malley added: “Our webinars not only provided an overview on volume performance, it also highlighted the many opportunities that exist to help increase market share for all sectors.

“We predict the eating out market will not recover any time soon, especially in light of the new restrictions announced at the weekend, but the retail and takeaway markets will continue to grow. Therefore, it is vital that we make the most of these channels to grow volumes of all our sectors.”

The Consumer Insight webinars will continue on November 10, 11, 12, and will look at some of the key industry reputational issues impacting consumer demand, such as buying British, the environment, health and animal welfare.

AHDB’s expert analysts will explore how these key issues have fared during the turbulence of 2020 and whether consumers’ views have shifted during Covid-19. The webinars will also uncover future opportunities and threats for meat, dairy and fresh produce.

To sign up for the next series of webinars, register at To watch any of the three webinars in the first series follow the link


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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.