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.

Key EU sheep meat sector trends – first half of 2019

Now that we are half way through the year let’s take a look at how key countries in the EU are performing in the sheep sector. Due to data lags, some data is a few months behind. Some key stand out figures include a sharp decline in Spanish production, and imports by Germany being significantly down. Almost all of the decline in German imports can…

Lamb prices follow the five-year average

In the week ended 17 July the GB liveweight NSL SQQ fell 6.8p to 182.7p/kg, on par with the five-year average for the time of year. Auction market throughput increased to 101,400 head, 10% higher than last week and 29% above the week last year. Meanwhile the deadweight NSL SQQ fell 18.6p during the week ending 13 July, to 414.9p/kg. This was also similar to…

UK sheep meat export volumes buoyant in May

UK reported exports of sheep meat totalled 7,600 tonnes during May, up almost a third on the five-year average, according to HMRC data. France received the largest volume taking 2,700 tonnes. Shipments to Germany more than doubled to 2,000 tonnes, which is likely a reflection of the tight global market. New Zealand is historically the largest supplier to Germany, however, NZ shipments have been down…

Exchange rates and cattle prices: why are Irish prices converging with UK prices?

In the past two years UK cattle prices have averaged around £35/100kg above Irish prices, however this premium has virtually disappeared over recent weeks. Having strengthened against the euro during the first quarter of 2019, sterling became weaker during quarter two. Much of this weakening has come since the middle of May. But what does this actually mean for cattle prices? While weaker sterling appears…

OECD-FAO Outlook: Meat prices to decline in real terms

In real terms, meat pieces are projected to decline over the next decade, according to the latest OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook. This reflects slower growth in meat consumption and expanding supplies. However, feed grain prices are expected to be low relative to the previous decade. So, meat-to-feed price margins generally remain within historical levels. Nonetheless, sheep meat prices are forecast to remain high until 2020, driven…

Another drop in cattle prices

Deadweight cattle prices have continued to fall in the week ended 13 July. Though, the rate of decline reduced again, suggesting demand is moving more in line with supply. For a more in-depth look at what is influencing GB cattle prices at the moment, please click here. The GB all prime average declined 1.2p on the week, to 326.3p/kg. The gap compared to the five-year…

Market demand for GB beef

In the last 52 weeks, primary beef volume sales through retail are down 2.2% (6,200 tonnes) although in the last 6 months, the decline has slowed to -1.8%. Burger and grill sales have been subdued in the last few months, compared to last year when the prolonged heatwave shifted large volumes. 2,500 fewer tonnes of beef burgers and grills were sold in the last three…

GB prime cattle prices continue to fall

The GB prime cattle price has been on a downward trend since the end of Sep-18. Despite a slight rally in May, the GB R4L steer price has fallen by 44p since September, to average 340p/kg in the last week of June. In 2018, and to some extent 2017, the price rose at the start of the year, although it did initially fall slightly, just…

Slower slaughter pace dampens EU beef production

In the first four months of the year, 8.6 million cattle were slaughtered across the EU. This is 1% (100,000 head) less than the same period last year. While Ireland did record a large increase on the year, this was not enough to compensate for the slowdown in pace in Poland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Carcase weights in the year to April averaged 298kg/head…

Cross border cattle trade drives growth in US feedlots

More cattle are being moved across the United States, Canadian and Mexican border. So far this year (year to May), US imports of live cattle have increased by 21% (+170,000 head). Unsurprisingly, the number of cattle on US feedlots has also increased. In June, the inventory reached 11.7 million head, 2% (+200,000 head) above the same point last year and the highest June inventory since…

Rising production boosts Irish beef exports

The Irish cattle kill has increased significantly in the first few months of 2019. This has led to an increase in exports overall, although shipments to the UK have declined. Prime cattle prices were relatively flat during the first quarter. Through May and the start of June the price experienced a small lift but is currently tracking downwards. Note that the year to date figures…

UK beef production rises with heavier weights

During June, the UK produced 74,100 tonnes of beef, according to the latest Defra data. This represents an increase of 2% from the same month in the year previous. Prime cattle slaughterings were flat over the same period, at 160,000 head. Similar to last month, throughput has been a little higher than anticipated in our April forecast. This suggests numbers may be tighter than previously…