Tight prime cattle supplies continue to impact on production

Tight prime cattle supplies continue to impact on production

UK beef and veal production is set to fall by two per cent to 860,000 tonnes in 2015, according to the latest AHDB Beef and Lamb market outlook.

According to QMS: "It seems likely then that Scottish and GB cattle finishers are benefiting from the multiple retailers’ commitments to British beef made at the time of the horsemeat debacle."

Prime cattle supplies are expected to be tight for the rest of the year.

Prime cattle supplies are expected to be tight for the rest of the year, but challenges in the dairy sector could lead to increased cow slaughterings.

The beef suckler herd is now at its lowest level since the late 1980s, at 1.57 million head, having fallen by more than 200,000 head in the past decade.

British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) data recorded significantly fewer cattle on the ground between 18 and 24 months of age at the start of 2015 than in the previous year, which has led to a drop off in prime cattle availability in 2015.

However, BCMS data in April showed that the number of younger cattle on the ground was up on the year and therefore slaughterings in 2016 are forecast to edge back up to around 1.97 million head, with production anticipated to reach 879,000 tonnes.

Good availability of high-quality forage and lower feed prices has seen carcase weights for prime cattle this year stay at generally higher levels than achieved in 2014. This trend is expected to continue for the remainder of the year and into 2016.

Exports are being influenced significantly by the strength of Sterling against the Euro, making it harder to compete on the Continent. UK beef and veal exports in the first five months of 2015 were down on the year earlier, despite only a small fall in production. Import volumes this year are forecast to be below the raised levels of 2014, but have been revised upwards given the Sterling/Euro relationship in the year to date.

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