SEASONAL turkey sales suffered as shoppers switched from the traditional Christmas roast to alternatives like chicken, lamb or gammon in 2022, with some gains also made by beef.

But turkey remains the choice centrepiece for most at Christmas, with IGD data suggesting 56% of shoppers celebrating the day choose it for their festive roast – though this is down from 60% in 2021.

See also: Turkey numbers down in 2022

Headline whole turkey sale volumes in the four weeks to 25 December 2022 were down -13.2% on 2021 and -33.1% on 2019, according to Kantar data presented by the AHDB.

Turkey crowns or joint sales volumes grew 4.8% compared to 2021 but were down 9.4% on 2019 numbers.

The biggest gain by the same measure was whole chicken – up 11.9% on a year earlier – broadly the same as 12.9% growth compared with 2019.

Lamb enjoyed a double-digit increase in sales (10%) on 2021, while a more modest 2.2% and 2.1% growth in beef and gammon was recorded.

Turkey remains most popular

There is evidence shoppers were concerned about the availability of turkey given the impact of avian influenza on the seasonal free-range turkey sector through the Autumn, particularly for online shopping.

The AHDB also presented data about consumers’ use of butchers.

“While butchers still see an uplift in trade at Christmas, shopper numbers have been dwindling over time.

“In the four weeks ending 25 December 22, 5.3% of shoppers bought red meat from a butcher, down from 6.2% in 2019.

“This reduction in household penetration is reflected in total sales, where year-on-year volumes of red meat were down 4% and 17% vs 2019.

“Butchers, therefore, need to focus on building shopper loyalty throughout 2023,” added retail insight manager Rebecca Gladman.