Despite the press and publicity surrounding Veganuary, volume sales of meat, fish and poultry have held up well with little if any change in purchasing trends.

That was the good news story from Kantar Worldpanel's first update of 2019, for the 12 weeks to January 27, which pointed out that there had been no real change in sales year on year.

Instead, it claimed that although the period saw a lot of positive healthy intent, health conscious shoppers had helped to drive produce sales without hitting the meat, fish and poultry markets to the levels that could have been expected.

“Christmas is still lurking in the figures, but despite the media profile of Veganuary, the impact on our market is relatively low," said Nathan Ward, business unit director of meat, fish and poultry at Kantar Worldpanel.

"There is limited evidence of us becoming a nation of vegetarians and vegans, with only beef, lamb and turkey seeing volume declines in the latest period. Processed products have seen a slightly stronger decline, with bacon the largest driver of this volume loss as we see 4.2m fewer trips containing bacon.

"When we focus on the last four weeks when Veganuary was running, we’ve seen flat volumes for primary meat and poultry, with fish still in strong growth, so any impact is minimal on the core categories. What we are seeing is the continued impact of uncertainty and retailer price wars driving down prices and causing shoppers to be more conscious of their spending.”

Mr Ward added that chilled fish continues to show a strong performance as volume outstrips value growth, attracting 332,000 more shoppers and 2.6m more trips. All of the sectors saw volume during the period grow, except shellfish which is seeing static volumes. Salmon, cod and pollock are the key species driving growth, as natural drives salmon, breaded drives pollock and cod grows across all sectors except added value.

Conversely, he said that the decline in beef volumes had been driven by steaks which saw sales down 9.7%, with 420,000 fewer shoppers and 2.1m fewer trips this year, although in-store activity for Valentine’s Day is expected to help turn around this performance.

Roasting volumes continued to fall, but this is part of a long-term decline for roasting joints overall. Lamb, he said, continues to see the core roasting joints decline (leg -4%, shoulder -3%) and lamb chops down 8%, with fewer shoppers the key driver of these sectors.

Meanwhile, chicken continues to drive volume and the pull away from red meat volumes, with 390,000 more shoppers and 2m more trips. Legs and breasts continue to drive growth attracting 470,000 more shoppers to breasts and 280,000 more to legs.