Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Beefing up the Christmas Menu

With the Christmas tree now up and decorated and present shopping underway, many people’s attention will be turning to their Christmas dinner menu.

Whilst turkey still takes the Christmas dinner crown, statistics suggest that a number of consumers are turning to beef this festive season, with alternatives featuring classics like beef wellington, through to modern favourites like organic ribs. According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel figures, the amount of beef purchased over the last three months has slowly been increasing in the lead up to the Christmas period.

There are growing numbers of Christmas diners who are looking for slightly more adventurous recipes to impress guests at the table. Part of the appeal of having beef on the Christmas dinner plate is that there is such a variety of ways to cook it.

To help drive consumers towards beef Denise Spencer-Walker, our resident food advisor, has put together Roasting: A Culinary Christmas Story, a collation of all her top tips and recipes for using beef as the turkey alternative. Some of the must-try dishes include festive roast beef with cranberry and red onion relish.  For those catering for smaller numbers there is the beef mini roast is coated in caraway seeds and garlic crust.

Though the culinary pinnacle of December might take place on the 25th, with all family dinners, Christmas parties and festive catch ups, the entire month is filled with good, hearty food. This is perhaps why the sale of stewing cuts has been particularly prominent, almost doubling over the last quarter, reflecting an increased demand at this time of year. Our trade marketing team has been supporting butchers in capitalising on this seasonal trend through the ‘Slowly Does It’ campaign. The most recent phase of the campaign saw the launch of the Winter Point of Sale (POS) Kit.

The POS kit is packed with useful marketing materials, designed to showcase a range of beef and lamb cuts to customers during the winter season. Materials included in the kit have been produced for use at different stages throughout the colder months.  The first part of the kit, the ‘Slowly Does It Winter Essentials’, promotes a range of added value beef and lamb cuts that are ideal for slow cooking and use in casseroles and stews.

The casserole, stewing and braising category has been one of particular focus this financial quarter. We conducted extensive product analysis and consumer research to establish what consumer attitudes are towards these types of dishes, and how they can be encouraged to regularly incorporate them into their meal repertoires.

The results of the research found that, whilst there are issues around product consistency and cooking instructions, casseroles and stews have retained their image of being tasty, hearty family dinners. The findings have been collated into a report, Casserole Revival, which is available online now.

Whatever is on the dinner table this Christmas the options are certainly meaty, and going into the New Year we will continue to capitalise on trends and consumer preferences to drive and promote beef and lamb sales.  

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