Cheaper cuts of meat making a comeback

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 9th December 2008

Shanks, hocks and cheeks are giving prime cuts a run for their money, according to UK supermarket chain Waitrose.

As the credit crunch deepens, sales of cheaper, lesser known cuts of meat have rocketed, prompting the supermarket to increase distribution in a bid to keep up with demand.

Pigs’ cheeks, which were launched into four branches ten weeks ago at just £1.35 per lb (A$3.05), are now being stocked in over 34 stores. Similarly, sales of ox cheeks have risen by an average of 80% per branch. Alternatives to prime cut steaks such as beef skirt are also surpassing sales expectations.

Even established lines of thrifty cuts are flying off the shelves. Waitrose has seen lamb shoulder shanks, which cost a fraction of the price of prime lamb shanks, up as much as 200% compared with 2007.

“The credit crunch is transforming the way in which Britons shop and cook,” Waitrose Meat Buyer, Anna Lloyd, said. “Customers are much more open to trying alternative cuts than they were even compared with six months ago. In doing so, many are realising that these cuts are every bit as delicious and easy to prepare as fillet, sirloin and breast.”

The trend has also been witnessed in the US and here in Australia, with a September survey of butchers by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) discovering a greater consumer interest in cheaper cuts of meat.

The survey found an overall increase in sales largely driven by cheap meats as consumers look to cut down on eating out. The most noticeable rises were seen for beef silverside, blade and sausages; lamb chops, chump and leg; and chicken products.