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.

The beef sector in Japan and South Korea

South Korea has the highest per capita consumption of beef in Asia, while Japan imports the third largest amount of beef in the world. In 2017, Japan imported 573,000 tonnes and South Korea imported 379,000 tonnes. Around half of all beef imported into Japan comes from Australia, although the US has increasingly been competing against Australia in recent years. At the start of August 2017,…

Prime cattle prices follow seasonal trend

In the week ended 5 May 2018, the GB all prime average gained 0.77p on-the-week, to 363.98p/kg. Compared to year earlier levels the measure stands almost 12p higher in this year. It is not unusual for prime cattle prices to rise at this time of year, as demand at retail level increases, and reports suggest that carcase balance is currently good. Due to the recent…

Demand for lamb rising in Asia

In 2017, China was the world’s largest importer of fresh/frozen sheep meat, at 249,000 tonnes. In quarter one of 2018 China imported 89,600 tonnes, 25% more sheep meat than in quarter one of 2017. Japan and South Korea both increased imports significantly on 2016, to 21,700 tonnes and 15,000 tonnes respectively.   Different countries within Asia have different priorities when purchasing meat as well as…

Liveweight lamb trade picks up again

Old season lamb prices at GB auction markets picked up again in the week ended 3 May, with the OSL SQQ up almost 11p on the previous week at 242.59p/kg. As such, the difference compared to year earlier levels opened up again, increasing to over 64p. Looking at prices on a daily basis, the OSL SQQ has been trending above the previous week’s levels for…

New Zealand beef exports production forecast down

New Zealand is now half way through its production year (October-September) and has released its mid-season update. In June 2017, beef cattle numbers for 2017/18 provisionally totalled 3.5 million head, down 2.1% on the previous season, primarily driven by an increase in the number of breeding cows and sucklers. Meanwhile, dairy cattle numbers remained steady on the year, at 6.5 million head. The estimated volume…

Prices for steers and heifers meeting the R4L spec gain

In the week ended 28 April, the GB all prime average cattle price increased by 0.71p on-the-week, to 363.21p/kg. The measure currently stands 14p above year earlier levels. Industry reports suggest that prices are being supported by processors being able to achieve good carcase balance due to a varied customer base. Further reports have suggested that some cattle are coming in slightly over finished. The…

USDA forecasts meat trade growth

The USDA has forecast growth in global beef, pork and poultry trade in 2018. This will be the first time all three categories have grown simultaneously since 2012, with trade in beef growing the most, by 5% year on year. The increase in world beef trade will be driven by a combination of strong global demand, and more competitive prices. Both the US itself, and…

Diverging trends in global sheep meat export values

The two largest exporters of sheep meat in the world are New Zealand and Australia. Due to the EU sheep meat quota system, New Zealand ships more into the region than Australia does. While not perfect, looking at the declared export value per tonne may provide an indication of why UK imports have declined, and New Zealand has been shipping more sheep meat to other…

Will imports of New Zealand lamb return to “normal” this year?

Free markets will naturally balance imports, exports, and domestic production, in order to meet both domestic and global demand and ideally help to maximise carcase balance. Through the rest of 2018, UK imports of sheep meat are expected to continue to be lower year-on-year largely due to more attractive netback prices available elsewhere in the world. New Zealand is now half way through its production…

Lamb prices cool but still high

During the week ending 25 April, the GB liveweight OSL SQQ slipped 2.45p on-the-week, to 231.8p/kg and currently stands nearly 52p above year earlier levels. Over the course of the week the daily price remained above the 230p/kg market apart from on Friday 20 April, when the quote slipped to 205.23p/kg. The GB liveweight NSL SQQ gained 18p during the week, to stand at 301.36p/kg.…

Straw prices reach record breaking levels

In 2017, harvest was a drawn out affair, with some difficult conditions, especially in the North. Straw prices began rising in October and have continued to do so throughout winter. In February, the England and Wales average ex-farm big square baled barley straw stood at £90/t, 73% above year earlier levels. While the EW average ex-farm wheat straw price was 62% higher year-on-year, at £81/t.…

Prime cattle prices continue to creep up

During the week ending 21 April, the GB all prime average cattle price gained just over 0.9p, to 362.5p/kg. Currently the measure is standing almost 15p above year earlier levels, with industry reports suggesting demand may just be ahead of supply. The overall heifer price gained 1.2p week-on-week, to 365.3p/kg, while those heifer carcases meeting the R4L speciation recorded a more modest increase (+0.7p). Prices…