Increased demand for red meat and dairy in the week before Christmas saw record-breaking sales, with £4.8bn spent on groceries, up 4% on the year, and a new high of £13.7bn spent in December.

The figures from Kantar, saw the total spend on total meat, fish, and poultry (MFP) rise 11.6% on the year during the two-week run up to Christmas Day. Across the red meat category, total volumes for each protein performed well, and despite cost pressures remaining at the forefront of consumer’s minds, demand for all the trimmings also improved with chilled gravy volumes rising 11% during the period.

Turkey remains the UK’s favourite roasting joint at Christmas with 56% of shoppers preparing it according to IGD. Looking at specific cuts, whole turkey and crowns/joints accounted for 31.9% of Christmas volumes in the two weeks to the big day according to Kantar. Interestingly, turkey was also the only protein in the MFP category to see volumes down on pre-Covid levels.

Despite its higher average price, total beef volumes grew, and overall lamb volumes rose by 17.3%, which all came from fresh lamb, specifically roasting joints. Pork was the only red meat to have lost shoppers through switching to other proteins, however, those who did buy pork bought more of it, resulting in total pork volumes growing by 3.7% year on year.

In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, shoppers spent more than £593m on total dairy products (including cows, plant, and other animals), and cows’ dairy equated to 94% of these total dairy volume sales – up 2% on the previous year.

Overall, cows’ cheese saw an almost 4% increase in volume purchased and there was an indication that shoppers did cut back in some areas perhaps perceived as non-essential, such as cheeseboards and convenience products. Double cream and crème fraiche also performed well, as did yoghurt which saw volumes purchased increase by almost 14%.

All major retailers saw an increase in MFP volumes in the two weeks before Christmas but the traditional top four outperformed the discounters. Discounters continue to see the biggest change since before covid with volumes up 29.2% versus Christmas 2019, and it was a positive Christmas for butchers with year on year volume growth of 3.9%