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Beef price reaches record highs of £4/kg

Beef prices have reached the ‘highest levels in many farmers’ living memory’ as they soared past the £4/kg mark.


Beef price reaches record highs of £4/kg


It comes as the supply of domestic cattle continues to pose a challenge, which, coupled with strong retail demand and changes to trade patterns caused by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, has helped keep prices extremely firm.

 

The average deadweight price for steers in the week ending April 24 was 406.4p/kg, 83.6p/kg higher than 2020.

 

And prices were expected to remain strong in the coming months.


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Glesni Phillips, data analyst at Hybu Cig Cymru, highlighted the UK suckler herd has been retracting in recent years, with no signs of rebuilding quickly.

 

“Prime heifer slaughterings during 2020 and the first quarter of this year, for instance, are higher than recent historic levels,” Ms Phillips said, adding it suggested supply would remain tight for ‘some time’.

 

Stuart Ashworth, Quality Meat Scotland director of economic services, said cattle throughputs were expected to increase in autumn as indicated by the December 2020 agricultural census showing growth in the number of under one-year-old cattle on UK farms that will begin reaching abattoirs in late 2021.

 

“While each year is different, it is not unusual to find prime cattle supplies at their seasonal low through May and June accompanied by a firming of prices as you get the transfer from indoor finished cattle to cattle coming in off grass,” Mr Ashworth said.

 

“Equally though cattle availability historically peaks through late September and October so it would not be unusual to expect the price to cool off at this time of year.”

 

There was also a nervousness about how prices will adjust as the UK moves out of lockdown.

 

 

Demand

 

 

Richard Findlay, NFU livestock board chairman, said the price was great news, driven by consumer demand for British beef, but it was needed on the back of rising input costs.

 

“We have to work very hard to keep the price high and make sure British beef continues to be the first choice of consumers, recognised for its great taste and one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world,” he said, adding the industry needed to pressure Government on public procurement, to move away from sourcing cheap imported meats with a higher carbon footprint.

 

He also praised the levy boards’ campaigns which have had a positive impact on consumer buying habits, benefitting UK beef prices.

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