This year, during Lent (February 27 - April 15), the reduction in meat consumption in certain categories will be more than 10%. Usually meat consumption during this period is reduced by 8-9%. Beef and pork sag especially strongly, and to a lesser extent, chicken. Participants of the market of meat and meat products put these figures into the production plan.
This year, Davleev believes, meat sales during Lent will be additionally influenced by inflationary processes and higher prices for products, due to which the purchasing power of consumers is reduced, and they begin to save more. Fasting will be an additional excuse to buy less meat, which is quite an expensive product, the expert believes.
The head of the National Meat Association (NMA), Sergei Yushin, does not expect that this year the dynamics of meat consumption during Lent will differ from previous years. Usually, according to him, the decrease in demand during this period is 7%, with a maximum of 10%. He points out that meat is an important source of energy and essential amino acids, as well as one of the most economically available foods today. “Now a broiler carcass in the store costs 130-140 per 1 kg - two times cheaper than cucumbers. The vegetarian diet has become very expensive, ”Yushin emphasizes.
The head of the NMA also noted that from the point of view of the industry, Lent is not the most important factor and it does not have any grandiose impact on the meat market. Fasting occurs every year, and producers factor it into their plans in such a way as not to create excess stocks of meat that would have to be frozen or sold at a reduced price.
According to the General Director of the National Union of Pig Breeders Yuri Kovalev, in the first and last weeks of Lent, the consumption of all types of meat drops by 8-10%. During the entire fast, the average consumption is reduced by 5-6%. He also recalled that meat consumption, especially pork, has been growing in recent years and, by the end of 2022, amounted to 79 kg per person, of which almost 30 kg was pork.
“We are not seeing a significant decline in sales of meat and meat products during Lent. As a rule, at the beginning of the post, sales are influenced by International Women's Day: the demand for meat is growing. In the following weeks, we will also record positive dynamics due to the seasonality factor: with warming, the demand for meat for picnics increases, ”the press service of Magnit said. This year, the retailer recorded a decrease in sales of meat and meat products in the first days of the first week of Great Lent, but this was due to the end of the long weekend dedicated to the Defender of the Fatherland Day, the company believes. By March 3, the level of sales had recovered.
The representative of the VkusVill network, Olga Lapochkina, in an interview with Agroinvestor, noted that in the winter season the demand for meat is traditionally higher, and with the advent of spring, the diet of buyers changes. “In recent weeks, there has been a decline in the subgroups “duck” and “meat for roasting”. Significant changes in prices in the meat category are not expected, the cost of individual items may change in accordance with the conditions of purchase and the situation on the market,” Lapochkina commented. She also added that during the days of Lent, many vegetable novelties appear in the assortment of VkusVill, the demand for alternative products in the category of cooking, meat substitutes and desserts is especially high.
“We do not see a decrease in the consumption of meat products. In February, we observed a slight increase year on year, and we are planning March with an increase, because the proportion of people who strictly observe all fasting restrictions is small, and the availability of meat products is growing, ”commented the press service of the Miratorg agricultural holding.
May holidays should spur meat consumption
All experts and market participants interviewed by Agroinvestor expect an increase in demand for meat and meat products, or at least a recovery to the levels preceding Great Lent, with the beginning of the May holidays and the so-called barbecue season. According to Yushin, the May holidays are a factor much more noticeable than the post, and the industry is waiting for them "with great enthusiasm and hope." If the weather is good these days, then a sharp demand is expected for certain types of pork (neck, loin), poultry parts and lamb, which are used for barbecue. According to NMA, the price of a pork neck in May can be 30% higher than in February.
Yushin also warned that cloudy, cold and rainy weather in May could backfire on the industry. In particular, he recalled the case when retail chains ordered large amounts of barbecue, but their hopes for warm weather in May did not come true. As a result, this resulted in a conflict with suppliers, as the chains began to refuse the ordered meat products, realizing that they would not be able to sell them.
Magnit added that traditionally during the May holidays there is a significant increase in sales of meat. First of all, the demand is increasing for the grill assortment: this period accounts for the largest sales volume of marinated meat (shish kebab, wings, ribs, etc.), sausages, and kupat in a year. “Last year, during the first May holidays alone, kebab sales grew by 200%, and it is noteworthy that our customers more often chose turkey meat,” adds Lapochkina from VkusVill.
Albert Davleev from Agrifood Strategies also believes that May and June are an important period for the industry. But, according to him, last year, due to the economic and social situation after the start of the SVO, the entire meat market froze just at the moment when the start of the dacha-barbecue season was expected. As a result, this circumstance, together with the factor of increasing production to critical volumes, led to the fact that the average pork prices fell by 5-7%. “The panic about the socio-political situation has passed, but this year I would not expect a sharp surge in meat consumption during the May holidays. Most likely, the demand for meat during this period will only recover after a decline during Lent,” commented Davleev. He added that this is also due to the rather low purchasing power of the population.