Beef market monthly update - December 2022

Friday, 3 February 2023


In December, average GB deadweight prime cattle prices were slightly above those in November, with prices consistently higher year-on-year and significantly greater than the 5-year average. GB deadweight cow prices increased weekly in December with prices averaging higher month-on-month, and remaining elevated on year earlier levels and the 5-year average. Overall, cattle prices ended 2022 on a historic high.


Nearby ICE UK natural gas prices are now at levels seen prior to the war in Ukraine, but are set to remain supported this year which could keep fertiliser prices high in 2023. Historically high feed ingredient and fuel prices are continuing to drive agricultural price inflation however in January, feed ingredient prices, namely soyameal, and delivered feed wheat prices fell overall. Meanwhile, GB animal feed production is at a 6-year low from July to November, with cattle feed production down 2% on the year and set to remain slow this season. This is in line with expectations due to ongoing contractions in the dairy and suckler herd, reducing feed demand.

Production and trade

UK beef production was down month-on-month in December due to reduced prime cattle and cow slaughter, following seasonal trends. Nevertheless, total UK beef production for 2022 was up on year earlier levels due to increased throughputs.

November’s beef trade data showed import volumes were down month-on-month and year-on-year due to reduced Irish imports, with year-to-date imports also down on the same period in 2021. Export volumes held steady in November but were down on the same month in 2021 as reduced exports to Asian markets outweighed increases made to the EU. Year-to-date (Jan-Nov) export volumes were up on 2021 levels, with the split of fresh and frozen beef beginning to return to 2019 levels.

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Tom Price

Retail and Consumer Insight Analyst

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