Welcome to the AHDB Beef & Lamb Market news section.

The aim of the Market news section is to share market information and provide greater insight and analysis on market developments and industry issues in the beef and sheep meat sector.

UK beef production 2% higher in 2019

Now Defra has published December data, we can take a look at beef production for the whole of 2019. Beef and veal production for the year totalled 914,400 tonnes, a 2% increase compared to the previous year. Much of this increase has been driven by the increase in carcase weights seen during the year. In 2019, total prime slaughter was slightly higher (0.8%) than in…

Sheep meat production stable in December, but up for the year

UK sheep meat production was 26,700 tonnes in December, steady compared to the same month in 2018, according to data released by Defra. This brings annual production to 307,500 tonnes, more than 6% higher than 2018. This was due to a combination of higher throughput and heavier weights. 1.19 million clean sheep were slaughtered in the month, just a little lower than last December’s throughput,…

UK beef exports perform well in November while imports lag behind

The latest figures published by HMRC showed that in November, UK beef trade continued to follow the trends recorded for most of the year. UK beef exports increased by 23% on year. Meanwhile imports were down by 23% on the year. Exports The UK’s beef export market has continued to perform well for another month. In November, shipments of fresh/frozen beef were up by 23%…

Sheep prices stay buoyant

GB deadweight old season lamb prices have continued from their positive start to the year with a 0.2p increase in the week ended 11 January, bringing the GB deadweight OSL SQQ to 450.3p/kg. This is 17.1p higher than the same week last year and 43p above the 5-year average. In the week ended 15 January, the GB liveweight OSL SQQ stood at 209.22p/kg. Auction market…

UK sheep meat imports and exports both decline in November

Imports During November, UK imports of fresh and frozen sheep meat recorded a modest 2% (100 tonnes) decline compared to Nov 2018, to stand at 4,700 tonnes, according to HMRC data. Shipments from New Zealand and Ireland both declined while imports from Australia increased. Just under half of all the imports were of leg cuts. Reflecting the high prices for sheep meat on the global…

GB prime cattle prices hold their ground

Prime cattle prices remained stable in the week ending 11 January, the overall prime average gaining 0.3p to £3.31/kg. This is still around 20p/kg below the price a year ago and the five-year average. Steer prices rose 0.4p to £3.32/kg and heifer prices rose by 0.2p to £3.33/kg. Cattle meeting R3 and R4L specifications were particularly in demand and these prices performed slightly better than…

Lamb prices start the year strongly

In something of a repeat of 2019, sheep prices started the year strongly in 2020. During the week ending 4 January, the GB deadweight OSL SQQ average 450.1p/kg, 12.1p higher than where last year’s price closed. Compared to the five-year average the quote stands more than 40p higher. The market for cull ewes is also particularly buoyant, with prices in the week around £80/head. Industry…

Prime cattle prices enter 2020 below the 5 yr average

Throughout 2019 GB cattle prices were under pressure, although they did receive some support during the last two months from Christmas demand. During the week ending 4 January the GB all prime average fell almost 4p week-on-week to £3.31/kg. Declines were universal across the prime categories. Next week will be a better indicator, as this week contains New Year and is therefore a shorter week.…

Wildfires in Australia – a beef and lamb perspective

Australia is currently facing extensive and severe wildfires. While most sheep are further inland than many of the fires, there are still significant numbers in the areas affected. Early estimates suggest that over a quarter of sheep in Australia are kept in areas that have either been significantly or partially impacted. Similarly, around a fifth of the national cattle population is in areas that have…

New Zealand still shipping more meat to China

New Zealand meat exports have increased sharply in value during 2019, according to Statistics NZ. Combined, the value of beef and sheep meat exports between Jan and Nov 2019 stood at NZ$6.7 million (£3.5 million), up from NZ$6.3 in the same period of 2018. The story for both meats is essentially the same, more volume to China, diverted from other markets. While the total volume…

Chinese meat prices still high

Despite China taking more meat from all over the world (read more on page 4 of the AHDB sheep outlook), it has not been enough to stop wholesale meat prices from rising. Pork prices have more than doubled over the past six months. Beef and lamb prices recorded some significant rises during 2018 and have been on a gentle climb over the past 12 months.…

Cattle prices rise over the Christmas period

GB prime deadweight cattle prices increased for both steers and heifers for the week ending 28 December, finishing at 334.9p/kg and 335.5p/kg respectively. Over the two-week Christmas period the all prime average increased by 7.3p to finish at 334.5p/kg. For the week ending 21 December, heifer prices went up in southern and central regions, but down in northern and Scottish regions. Steer prices were up…