Covid impact on UK red meat trade easing

Covid impact on UK red meat trade easing

The latest Monthly Market Bulletin by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) shows that the impact of Covid on the British red meat industry is subsiding.

However, the same report has also found that new external pressures – ranging from price inflation to the hot weather – are beginning to be felt on both consumers and farmers.

The HCC bulletin analyses production trends for lamb, beef and pork in the UK.

According to figures by Defra, UK prime lamb slaughterings for each of the first five months of 2022 were higher than the previous year’s mark. As a result, the total throughput of lambs at UK abattoirs during the first half of the year was up by 8% (or 440,700 head).

HCC said that this marks a return to more normal slaughter levels seen before 2020. The throughput of cull ewes and rams is also notably higher than 2021 levels, but comparable with the long-term average for the corresponding period.

The total throughput of cattle at UK abattoirs stood at 1.3 million head during the first half of 2022.

Challenges continue

HCC’s data analyst Glesni Phillips said that changes in shopping habits could have a potential impact on demand for certain cuts. Phillips said: “Retail data is beginning to suggest recessionary buying patterns on the part of hard-pressed consumers, with some shifting to cheaper cuts and cheaper proteins. This will be a concern for the industry in terms of carcase balance.

“Also, high input costs are having an adverse effect on farm balance sheets. The combined impact of the dry weather and high feed prices may limit the numbers of lambs ready for market over the next few weeks, while the high level of slaughterings in the pig sector – 8% higher than the 5-year average – suggest that some producers are reducing stock levels due to high costs.”

HCC’s Market Bulletin for July is available to view here.

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