Meat market analysis reveals complex trends
Analysis of market prices for lamb, beef and pork in Wales by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), suggests that both local and global factors are having a substantial and complex influence in 2019.
Cattle prices have dipped significantly below recent levels for all categories, including steers, heifers and prime cattle. No single factor seems to be responsible, however, but a range of issues affecting supply and demand. Since the start of the year, UK beef production is up 2% by volume while domestic demand is sluggish, partly due to poor weather at the start of the summer barbecue season combined with subdued consumer confidence as reported by the Bank of England.
Another factor for the current beef price levels would be the uncertainty brought by the current political turbulence. Reports suggest that businesses have been looking at contingency plans at various points in the supply chain for potential No-deal Brexit disruption, and this will continue to make 2019 an exceptionally difficult year to predict.
Lamb prices are somewhat lower than last year at around £2 per kilo (liveweight), however such prices are normal when compared to the five-year average for July. In contrast to 2018, when poor spring weather led to a reduction in supply, new season lambs have come on to the market in larger numbers earlier this year. Brexit-related uncertainty over exports was balanced by good domestic demand in late-spring.
Pig prices at market continue to rise, despite increased numbers coming to market in the UK, thanks to the influence of reduced production in Asia.
“This year is an exceptionally challenging one for farmers and the wider industry to be able to predict price fluctuations with any certainty,” said Glesni Phillips, data analyst at HCC. “Domestic UK demand – sluggish for beef but relatively buoyant for lamb in comparison with recent years – is a factor, as is increased production for lamb, beef and pork.
Glesni added; “However, there are complexities, which are difficult to establish in the data with any certainty, many of which will be caused by Brexit preparations. Global factors will also play a part, such as the example of the current situation over the Swine Fever outbreak in China and its impact on the global demand for pork and other proteins.
“While some of these factors may be out of anyone’s control there is a real need to regain confidence, both among consumers and producers, this will only start by having some certainty on the future trading environment.”