Bacon - a comprehensive look at the UK bacon industry

Cut this rash of promotions, urges MLC category chief

Richard Cullen wants the number of promotions on rashers cut to 5-10% of value, as with most other brands. "Retailers are basically taking value out of the market by offering promotions," he said.

Household penetration of bacon now stands at 91%, adds Cullen, and research had shown that this was a product consumers would normally have in their fridge.

"Consumers will take advantage of promotional offers, but they would have probably brought the product anyway," Cullen adds. The good news is that the premium sector, with more specialist cures, is showing growth as consumers trade up.

"This is an opportunity for market development for retailers, with Tesco's Finest and Sainsbury's Taste the Difference brand excelling," explains Cullen.

Joint sales rise

Retailers who are merchandising bacon joints alongside traditional meats are benefiting from an increase in sales of various cuts, says a meat marketing expert.

There is a distinct advantage in having bacon in this fixture rather than in the bacon section, explains Richard Cullen, Meat and Livestock Commission category development manager.

"Consumers are more likely to see it as viable alternative when it appears alongside other options," he says.

Joints showed strong growth year-on-year, with value growth up 7% while volume rose 2.3% in the year up to 29 January, according to TNS.

The bacon market, in turn, also benefits. Robert Smith, Vion head of communication and marketing, says: "There has been long-term growth, particularly via the increase in sales at Christmas." However, there has not been a similar value increase in chops and steaks. Expenditure here was up by 1% while volume increased by 2% - again due to good sales in Christmas 2005.

UK just loves a bacon sarnie

The nation's favourite meal in 2005 was a sandwich. Last year, we munched our way through billions of them - and a staggering 10 billion were bacon sarnies.

Two billion bacon sandwiches were eaten out of the home, and a huge 8 billion were eaten in the home. Bacon sandwiches represent one in 10 sandwiches eaten at home and one in 17 eaten out of home

If the home market was the size of the out-of-home market, the bacon sandwich market would grow by 25%, says TNS.

Core consumer drivers

While the strength of bacon sales is driven mainly by enjoyment and practicality, health is also an increasing factor, according to market researchers TNS. As a result of successful protein diets such as Atkins, bacon is now back on the breakfast plate.

Half of all bacon is eaten at breakfast, while over a third of rashers are eaten in a sandwich.

UK consumers change their bacon-eating habits during the week. At the beginning of the week, health is the priority and a no-threat rasher is taken at breakfast. But by the end of the week, enjoyment comes first. and the family reaches out for the gammon, chop or joint.

Source: TNS