Beef prices hold higher than last year
The latest market commentary from Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) shows that although cattle prices have cooled recently over the past month, they are expected to rise as demand for beef increases in the run up to Christmas.
Christmas buying will be under way shortly and premium beef, often with a 21 or 28-day maturation period, will need to be purchased over the next couple of weeks to meet consumer demand.
Stuart Ashworth, QMS director of Economic Services commented: “Demand for beef will be expected to grow in the run up to Christmas, particularly for the more expensive roasting joints.
“Data on retail sales from Kantar Worldpanel typically show that beef sales over the Christmas and New Year period can be 2-3% higher than in the month previous, while demand for roasting joints can double.”
As a consequence, Ashworth has pointed out that it is not unusual to see prime cattle prices begin to firm in mid-November before dipping away again from mid-December.
“Although we have seen cattle prices dipping 6-7 p/kg dwt over the last month, they also dipped sharply through October last year so, despite recent falls, current prices have once again moved ahead of year earlier levels to start November 2p/kg dwt higher than last year, he added.”
Figures show growth in supplies will have contributed to this seasonal decline in price.
In contrast to prime cattle, the weekly slaughtering of cull cows over July, August and September has been running higher than year earlier levels said Ashworth, although they have been producing lighter weight carcases possibly of poorer conformation.
Price-reporting abattoirs indicate that the weekly kill of cull cows has continued to run ahead of year earlier levels through October.
“As numbers of cull cows increased, prices started to slide particularly through July and August. This has led to a sharp decrease in prices with the current price being around 18 p/kg dwt below last year,” added Ashworth.
“Imports of frozen beef, more likely to be competing with cow beef for manufacturers’ interests, have also been running higher than last year through the autumn. In contrast, imports of fresh and chilled beef has been very similar to last year’s levels.” he concluded