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.

Beef and sheep meat imports lower in January

During January, the UK imported just over 5,000 tonnes product weight of fresh and frozen sheep meat, according to HMRC trade data. Half of this volumes came from New Zealand. Compared to year earlier levels this is a significant decline, with total volumes down 22% (1,450 tonnes). Approximately a third of the decline can be attributed to a decline in leg cuts, with shipments of…

Some lift for lamb prices

During the week ending 13 March, the GB liveweight OSL SQQ stood at 197.42p/kg, which is slightly below the five year average and up just over 6p week-on-week. Throughputs for the week slipped back by 3%, to 105,500 head. In the week ended 9 March, the GB deadweight OSL SQQ gained 1.5p on-the-week, to 417p/kg. The price currently stands 21.1p below the five year average.…

UK cattle herd contracts in December

The total number of cattle and calves on holdings in the UK at 1 December 2018 stood at 9.6 million head, down 2% from a year ago, according to the latest data from Defra. Total cattle and calf numbers have remained reasonably stable over the last decade, but have been creeping down over the last three years. The national breeding herd has followed this trend,…

Beef tariffs and quotas in a no-deal Brexit

In 2018 the UK imported 380,000 tonnes of beef, either fresh, frozen or processed. Of this, 340,000 tonnes was imported tariff free from the EU. An estimated 30,000 of the other 40,000 tonnes would have come in at a reduced tariff under pre-existing EU quotas, from countries outside the bloc. Under the new tariff rates published on Wednesday, tariffs applied to beef imports will be…

Sheep meat production steady, while beef up in February

During February the UK produced 75,700 tonnes of beef, and 22,100 tonnes of sheep meat, according to Defra data. While total sheep meat production was steady on the year, there was a change in mix of product with lamb slaughterings declining 7% (-66,400 head), and the number of ewes coming forwards picking up (+10,700 head). Naturally, being only February the number of new season lambs…

No reduction of UK sheep meat tariffs if there is a hard Brexit

On Wednesday 13 March, the UK Department for International Trade published a document detailing the UK most favoured nation (MFN) import tariffs if there is a ‘no-deal Brexit’. These tariffs are currently draft and subject to change, and still need parliamentary approval. Imports tariffs The UK will not be reducing sheep meat tariffs from the current EU level if there is a no-deal or ‘hard…

Smallest UK breeding flock since 2010

The results of the UK December census have now been released by Defra. Overall the UK breeding flock declined by 4%, to just over 14 million head. Such a large year-on-year change in the national breeding flock has not been recorded since the national flock declined in response to the removal of headage payments over 10 years ago. Based upon the results, it can now…

Prime cattle prices down again

In the week ended 9 March, the GB all prime deadweight price fell by 3.8p to 339.4p/kg, representing the greatest weekly drop since the price began falling in late September 2018. The measure now sits 16.6p below the price for the same week a year ago. Meanwhile, estimated slaughter for the week stood at 32,000 head, down 1,600 head from the previous week. All classes…

Latest sheep diseases update (Q4 2018)

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has released its latest quarterly update on small ruminant diseases. The weather this year has dominated much of the burdens placed on farmers, with the summer drought still affecting stock on farm through the winter months. During quarter four, there has been a significant increase in the diagnoses of parasitic gastro-enteritis (PGE) compared to the previous three years.…

Lower volumes but higher value for EU beef exports in 2018

EU-28 external exports of fresh/frozen beef for 2018 totalled 220,200 tonnes, down 6% year on year. Fresh/frozen beef exports have been facing stiff competition recently in a number of Asian markets amid higher global supply of beef and a number of large beef producing nations increasing presence in the region. Exports to Turkey continue to perform well, up 75% on 2017 levels. Trade with Turkey…

Liveweight lamb prices down on higher throughput

In the week ending 6 March, the GB liveweight OSL price dipped back down again following last week’s pick up. The SQQ for the week fell 1.03p to average the week at 191.27p/kg. The price discount compared to last year is increasing, because prices this time last year were rallying strongly, although the latest price is also now below the 5 year average for the…

UK lamb trade balances

It is well known that the UK both imports and exports sheep meat throughout the year. This is to balance two things, the timing of UK production compared to domestic demand, and the carcase. For example, the UK imports more legs than it exports (including those on exported carcases), and more of these imports happen in the spring. Unusually, in 2018 there was a pickup…