Shoppers switched to lamb from chicken and other proteins in a standout early spring performance.

The volume of lamb roasting joints purchased for Easter 2024 was 24.1% higher than last year, according to new figures from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

The meat, fish and poultry category saw both volume and value growth, with the average household spending £36.60 this Easter on meat, fish and poultry alone.

This is up 4.3% on Easter 2023 and, when compared to an average two weeks for the rest of the year, households spent an additional £4.25.

While price increases will have contributed to this growth, AHDB said there was also a 2.2% increase in volumes purchased, which highlights the ‘important role’ that meat, fish and poultry plays in households.

£100 million was also spent on Easter eggs and confectionary in the week leading up to Easter, which is the highest spend ever seen in the UK.

Lamb saw the best performance in the meat, fish and poultry category due to its volume growth year-on-year (+13.7%), and it was three times more likely to be purchased compared to an average two week period for the year.

Lamb roasting joints increased by 24.1% year-on-year and also accounted for almost three quarters of all lamb sold.

Consumers were shown to swap into the roast lamb category from all other main cuts and proteins, including cheaper items like chicken wings, legs and thighs.

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As a result, lamb roasting joints gained almost 300,000 new shoppers compared with Easter 2023.

“It is clear that shoppers value the tradition of Easter and its association with lamb, and are willing to treat themselves on special occasions, despite financial pressures,” AHDB said.

The meat, fish and poultry category saw the largest year-on-year increase in volumes purchased out of all cuts, being up by 23.5%.

AHDB retail and consumer insight analyst, Charlotte Forkes-Rees, said: “Overall, meat, fish and poultry was seen to outperform an average two week period over Easter, and while lamb was very much the star, beef purchases also saw a 4.1% uplift.

“Pork was the only red meat to see a dip in performance this year. This was driven by a reduction in shopper numbers year on year, as pork saw shoppers switching into all other proteins.

“As a result, key cuts such as gammon saw volume sales down by 26.2% year-on-year, and sausages and bacon also saw sizeable declines.”