August beef production moves closer to five-year average

Thursday, 10 September 2020

During August, beef and veal production in the UK totalled 74,100 tonnes, 1% more than was produced in August last year*.

Overall cattle slaughter moved closer to the five-year average during August. Total prime cattle slaughter reached 161,300 head, a similar figure to the year before (+0.8%). Steer throughput during August totalled 80,600 head, up 1% on last year, while heifer throughput totalled 64,400 head, up 5%. Throughput of young bulls fell 16% on the year to 16,300 head. August cow slaughter totalled 54,700 head, up 2% on the year before.

Carcase weights have continued to remain largely similar to last year through August, with steers and heifers down by 2kg and 1kg, respectively. Cow carcase weights were 3kg heavier than they were last year.

The August production numbers brought total prime cattle slaughter for January-August to 1.32 million head, and cow slaughter to 422,400 head, both up 2% on the year. Beef and veal production for the same period was 607,100 tonnes, also up 2% year-on-year.

Cattle prices have been buoyant in August, potentially drawing numbers out. A combination of sustained retail demand and tighter cattle numbers have been behind the price strength. We will soon have the data to indicate whether the government’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme had an effect on beef consumption, giving more colour to the increasing trend of the returning foodservice market.

*Defra have advised that their survey response was lower than usual again in August, due to the increased strain COVID-19 is having on the livestock industry. To compensate, Defra have made greater use of the Food Standards Agency throughput data to maintain coverage. This may affect how livestock numbers are split amongst their classifications; such as how cattle are split between prime and adult cattle.

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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