UK broilers have been getting heavier in recent years, according to Defra data, but not by enough to offset the recent drop in chick placings.

From 2019 to 2022, the average annual slaughter weight of home-produced birds has risen by 110g, from 2.24kg to 2.35kg.

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By comparison, average weights dipped up and down over the previous 20 years from 1999 but never exceeded the 2.24kg figure.

The average of 2.28kg in 2021 set a new record, and last year’s figure of 2.35kg marked an even more significant leap forward.

In the first four months of this year, average liveweights have maintained a similarly high level, at an average of 2.34kg, compared with 2.36kg for the same period last year.

Lower chick placings

This increase in liveweights has gone some way to compensate for the lower chick placings over the past 12 months.

According to Defra figures, UK broiler production increased in 2020 and 2021, with rising chick placings and liveweights reaching an all-time high of 1.99 million tonnes.

However, UK output slipped back last year by some 50,000t despite the much higher end weights.

Meanwhile, in the retail food sector, the latest inflation figures from Kantar show a marginal drop of a tenth of a percentage point to 17.2% year on year (for the four weeks ending 14 May).

Grocery price inflation

This at least indicates that food price inflation may be running out of steam.

Significantly, retail grocery sales were up by markedly less, by 10.8% over the same four weeks.

This indicates that shoppers were economising with various strategies, such as trading down to more own-label products, switching to cheaper food items within their diets, and buying fewer luxury foods.

One nugget provided by Kantar is that egg sales also gained from a surge in buffet and picnic food during the two weeks leading to the Coronation, with many households making Coronation quiche, while sales of Scotch eggs were up by 31%.

Pork products were the main beneficiary of the occasion, with sausage rolls up by 22%, pork pies by 20% and cooked sausages by 16%.