The overall proportion of grocery buyers buying fresh meat has fallen from 75.6 per cent in 2013 to 70.7 per cent in 2015, according to Roy Morgan Research.
ALDI is the only major supermarket to have made any real gains in fresh meat sales over the past few years, with 9.6 per cent of grocery buyers surveyed purchasing their meat there in an average seven days, up from 8.5 per cent in 2013 (an additional 265,000 meat-shoppers each week).
Coles remained relatively stable, but Woolworths (30.7 per cent to 27.3 per cent) and IGA (8.1 per cent to 6.8 per cent) experienced declines, as did markets/delicatessens (9.1 per cent to eight per cent).
Butchers have experienced the most significant decrease in purchase incidence – the proportion of Australian grocery buyers surveyed who bought their fresh meat from a butcher in any seven-day period fell from 23.1 per cent to 17.9 per cent.
Roy Morgan Research General Manager of Consumer Products Andrew Price says Australian grocery buyers appear to be gradually moving away from buying fresh meat, with butchers the most visible casualty.
“At the moment, despite their shrinking customer base, butchers are retaining a decent share of the overall fresh-meat market, due to the above-average amount spent by those grocery buyers who continue to shop with them,” he said. “But unless they can stem – or reverse – the decline in shoppers, it seems inevitable that butchers’ market share will erode.
“The supermarket situation is a little different. The proportion of grocery buyers purchasing fresh meat is decreasing at a slower rate and the customer volume is much higher. Whereas buying from a traditional butcher involves making a special trip, purchasing one’s meat at the same time as the rest of one’s groceries is much simpler.”
Mr Price says the news that Woolworths is changing the role of its staff butchers, bringing them to the front of store to sell pre-packaged meat and interact with customers, rather than plying their trade at the back, indicates that the supermarket chain is endeavouring to pre-empt further declines.
“But with the number of Australians who are ‘eating less red meat these days’ now surpassing 10.2 million people (increasing by 293,000 people since 2013) and the number of those pursuing a totally or almost vegetarian diet also rising over the same period, butchers and other players in the fresh meat market are facing challenging times.”