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UK cattle prices steady

02 February 2022

In a recent report by Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Lead Analyst for Red Meat Duncan Wyatt, GB deadweight prime cattle prices slipped by 0.8p/kg in the week ending 29 January, to average 405.7p/kg. "The market has been trading sideways for a couple of months now, more or less within a 2p range, implying that supply and demand are in tune with each other," he said. "Prices for heifers and steers both softened a touch."

Conversely, prices for young bulls and cows climbed. Overall cull cows fetched 274.7p/kg.

"It is around this time of year that processors’ thoughts lightly turn to thoughts of summer, and laying down stocks of burgers to meet seasonal demand," explained Wyatt.

Estimated slaughter of prime cattle was 29,900 head steady on last week; 11,000 cows were killed, 300 fewer than last week.

There were some differences in regional markets, most notably in Scotland where cattle prices converged with those in the North of England, and subsequent fall below, reported Wyatt. 

Cattle prices across GB have generally appreciated over the last couple of years, driven by a combination of tighter supply overall and a shift in demand into retail due to the pandemic, which benefitted domestic cattle in particular.

"If we look at supply on a more granular level, we can see that while the supply of cattle in GB overall remains relatively tight, more recently this does appear to have been expressed in English cattle numbers in particular," said Wyatt.

On 1 October, Scottish cattle numbers in the 18-24 month age group were slightly higher than the same point a year ago.

"There will be several factors at play possibly affecting the relative prices of cattle in neighbouring regions, including, for example, Covid-related staff levels in particular abattoirs, and changes in contracted volumes, as demand moves back from retail into foodservice," Wyatt concluded. "But by itself, this chart implies that the relative weakness in Scottish cattle prices could last a little longer."



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