AUSTRALIANS appear to have a big appetite for beef this summer, while their taste for soft drinks and ice cream is on the wane.
Unveiling Woolworths's latest sales figures yesterday, chief executive Grant O'Brien said beef had been flying out the doors of the group's supermarkets.
The supermarket chain notched up more than $22 million in beef sales last week alone.
"Last week we had our highest beef sales on record," Mr O'Brien told analysts in a briefing.
However, it was unclear whether the spike in sales was due to Australia Day barbecues or the return of warmer weather.
Warm temperatures have been lacking for most of the summer, causing a fall in sales of seasonal favourites such as soft drinks, ice cream and deli items including salads, cold meats and roast chickens.
Meanwhile, traditional Christmas staples remained popular over the festive season, with turkey, prawns, ham, fruit-mince pies and bananas among Woolworths' best sellers.
Mr O'Brien blamed the lowest December Australia-wide temperatures since 2001 for dampening Woolworths' second-quarter sales growth.
Comparable store sales in Woolworths' Australian supermarkets and liquor stores for the half year increased by just 1.5 per cent.
Price cuts Woolworths made in a boost to drive sales also kept a lid on sales growth.
Woolworths' supermarkets experienced significant price falls in the second quarter, particularly for produce, seafood, bakery and deli goods.
"Produce deflation was experienced in all months of the quarter and by December was double digit," Woolworths said in a statement.
Woolworths director of liquor Steve Greentree said liquor experienced another quarter of strong growth across all brands, with Dan Murphy's and BWS gaining further market share despite increased competition during the Christmas period.
"Our multichannel business in Cellarmasters and Dan Murphy's had an outstanding quarter as customers switch between in-store and online," he said.