Craze for vegan diets makes meat suffers biggest fall in supermarket sales

Meat sales in supermarkets slumped by £184.6million last year, more than any other grocery type, as veganism rose in popularity.

The new figures are a blow to the meat industry, which will come under pressure again this month as many try out veganism thanks to the Veguanary phenomenon.

This January 300,000 consumers have already pledged to go meat-free for the whole month.

Britons are spending millions of pounds more on alcohol, tobacco, chocolate and crisps, although sales of bread, yoghurt and fruit juice have fallen, new figures have shown.

The annual review of the nation's shopping baskets show that of the ten fastest growing supermarket categories, seven are far from healthy options.

Chocolate saw sales grow faster than any other type of grocery, followed by rolling tobacco, spirits, fizzy drinks and 'bagged snacks' - which is predominantly crisps - said trade journal The Grocer.

Sales of meat have plummeted during 2019 as poor weather cut short barbecue season while many consumers have been experimenting with an organic lifestyle

Sales of meat have plummeted during 2019 as poor weather cut short barbecue season while many consumers have been experimenting with an organic lifestyle 

Factors behind the growth include new product development, bad weather, a move from more expensive alternatives and, higher prices but without falling volumes.

And, for once, Brexit boredom may have actually boosted rather than harmed sales of many products as the relentless deal or no deal political saga drove many to drink, smoke and enjoy comfort food.

The uncertainty of Brexit saw many hold back on eating out, holidays and other bigger purchases but, as a result, spend more on eating in and staying at home which boosted supermarket sales for certain products.

The bad weather hit sales of ice cream and cider, for instance, which had boomed during the 2018 heatwaves, but spending on lager was up because of a move towards more premium, craft brands and spirits did well as gin continued to boom.

Chocolate sales climbed by £183 million because the manufacturers brought out new products, different pack sizes and variants and because dark chocolate, in particular, is now seen as healthy.

Rolling tobacco was the second biggest climber but cigarettes the second biggest faller as smokers switched from one to the other to save money.

Sales of chocolate products have increased by more than £185 million over 2018

Sales of chocolate products have increased by more than £185 million over 2018

And meat was the biggest faller of all due, mainly, to the boom in vegan and vegetarian diets but also thanks to the poor summer affecting the barbecue season after a boom the previous year.

Other factors include the sugar tax raising the price of fizzy drinks without affecting volume sales, the poor potato harvest pushing up crisp prices but, again, without affecting volume sales and a backlash against plastic hitting sales of bottled water.

The uncertainty over Brexit affect consumer confidence and this often results in shoppers reaching for indulgent treats, helping to explain the increase in chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks for instance.

Shoppers have also benefitted from price wars, particularly the continued rise of discount supermarkets fuelling more competitive pricing from

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