FRESH meat sales have fallen 0.5 per cent compared with a year ago, according to data released today by Meat and Livestock Australia.
It suggests price conscious consumers are directing their dollars towards the categories heavily discounted by the major retailers.
Conducted on behalf of MLA by Nielsen Homescan, which records the purchases of 10,000 households across Australia, the survey indicates that shoppers still prefer red meat as their protein of choice, but only if the price is right.
While all fresh meat categories combined have entered negative territory, lamb experienced the strongest growth.
Its share of the market tallied to August 4 was up by 0.6 percentage points compared to last year, an increase attributed to cuts in the retail price since March, along with deliberate discounting by supermarket giant Woolworths in recent weeks.
The marketing ploy by Woolworths to slash the price of lamb may have helped the retailer halt recent declines in its share of the fresh meat sector this quarter.
Overall it increased meat sales 0.2 percentage points compared with the July quarter, but is still 0.3 points down on an annual basis.
A 2pc lift in prices for beef has seen the category's market share take a 0.3 percentage point fall compared to 2011.
Curiously, chicken experienced the largest loss out of the fresh meat categories this quarter, down by 0.4 percentage points compared with 2011, despite another drop in its price.
Pork's share remains steady on an annual basis despite price falls over recent months.
The market share position of Coles and Aldi remains virtually unchanged from last month, but both recorded strong growth in fresh meat compared to last year.
IGA and specialty retailers, including the independent butcher network, have lost 0.6 percentage points compared with 2011.
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