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.

Record breaking sheep prices down under, where can they go next?

Throughout the last 12 months global lamb prices haven not followed the trend one would expect based upon historic seasonality. While Australian prices did record a slight seasonal decline at the start of the calendar year they continued to be high on historic terms. Farmgate prices in Australia returned to an upwards trend in the middle of April and have since been consistently moving up…

Both UK beef imports and exports rise

UK fresh/frozen beef imports are up by 6,300 tonnes (+6%) in the year to May, to total 112,800 tonnes. Within this, shipments during May alone are 4% higher year-on-year. The majority of this increase has come from Ireland, with these deliveries rising by 5,000 tonnes in the year to date (+7%) to total 80,400 tonnes. This accounts for over 70% of total imports in the…

EU beef trade balance falls into the negative

As a consequence of high cattle prices throughout 2017 and into early 2018, European beef has been struggling to remain competitive, and so exports have dipped. This, coupled with higher imports for the year to April, has resulted in the EU trade balance for the period falling into the negative. The EU average R3 young bull price followed an upward trend from May to December…

GB lamb prices continue to move south

During the week ending 18 July, the declining trend in the GB liveweight NSL SQQ steadied slightly, recording the smallest week-on-week decline for five weeks at 4.41p/kg. Currently the quote stands at 182.19p/kg, which is 26.20p/kg below year earlier levels. For the second consecutive week, the quote has been below the five year average. Auction market throughputs declined by 16% on the week and were…

Cattle prices continue to decline

In the week ending 14 July, the GB all-prime average cattle price declined by 2.36p on the week, to 367.31p/kg. This is the largest week-on-week drop since mid-January. The price is currently just 0.5p higher than the equivalent week last year, while the gap between 2018 levels and the 5-year average has narrowed to 12p. However, the price for steer carcases meeting the R4L specification…

Summer edition of short-term outlook for EU meat markets

The European Commission has published its latest EU short-term outlook covering 2018 and 2019. EU cattle sector Despite a reduction in the cow herd size in 2017 (<1%), net beef production increased 2% on the year in Q1 2018, with a 5% growth in EU-N13 countries. The rise has been supported by an increase in the pace of male cattle and heifer slaughterings. This higher…

Lacklustre production continues to put sheep meat exports under pressure

UK fresh & frozen sheep meat imports continued with the trend recorded so far in 2018, standing at 36,770 tonnes in the year-to May, 11% below year earlier levels, according to the latest data from HMRC. Yet again exports have struggled, as they are put under pressure again by the lack of supply. UK production of sheep meat stood 2,000 tonnes below May 2017, according…

OECD Agricultural outlook: slowing demand growth for meat products

Last week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation for the United Nations (FAO) released their annual agricultural outlook. The current edition provides market predictions for all agricultural commodities for the next 10 years (2018-2027). To summarise, global agricultural production is growing steadily across most commodities, reaching record levels in 2017 for most cereals, meat types, dairy products…

Weather impacting sheep meat production

During June, UK slaughterings of clean sheep stood at 872,500 head, a 16% (-171,900 head) decline on year earlier levels, according to the latest data from Defra. Reports have suggested that supplies were limited due to poor conditions at lambing reducing the size of the lamb crop, and the subsequent lack of grass growth. The sharp drop in slaughterings was largely driven by declines recorded…

Heifer slaughterings on the rise

UK beef and veal production in the first half of the year totalled 455,400 tonnes, according to the latest data from Defra. This is 2% (+9,700 tonnes) more than 2017. Contrastingly, production in June was marginally down, by 1% (-800 tonnes) to total 72,500 tonnes. This may be related to the additional week day in June 2017. Prime cattle slaughterings in June totalled 160,300 head,…

Lamb prices fall further

In the week ending 11 July, the GB liveweight NSL SQQ fell to 186.60p/kg, a 19p decline from the previous week. The new season lamb price is now 26p below year earlier levels and has also slipped below the 5-year average for the time of year, by 8p, for the first time in 2018. Auction market throughputs for the week ending 11 July totalled 93,000…

Producer share of beef retail price remains steady on the year

In June, the average farmgate price of prime cattle recorded modest gains for the fourth consecutive month, meanwhile the average retail price jumped up. Overall, this means the producer share of the retail price slipped very slightly, to around 51.5%, close to half a percentage point lower than at the same time last year. Looking at average retail prices in June, topside recorded a significant…