Beef market monthly update: December 2023

Thursday, 25 January 2024


GB deadweight cattle prices strengthened week on week during December, ending the year at a similar price point to figures seen in April/May 23. The all-prime average price started the month at 480.4p/kg, before a gaining momentum throughout December, increasing by greater amounts each week. For the final week of December and 2023 the average all prime cattle price sat at 489.0p/kg.

Cow prices began the month at an average price of 294.2p/kg, before dropping slightly by 0.5p into the second week of December. Following this, prices began to grow into the final 2 weeks of the year, with an overall average cow price of 307.8p/kg for the last week of December and 2023.

Input costs

Fertiliser costs remained below last year’s levels in December, signifying the third month on month drop. However, remains elevated above December 2020 prices, influenced by increased natural gas prices and unrest in the Middle East. Fuel prices also fell once again into December, sitting below rates seen in December 2022.


Beef production fell into December, totalling 67,200t, the lowest production volumes seen in over 5 years. This was a year on year decline of 15%, and a 21% month on month drop. Carcase weights saw a steep decline in 2023, falling to the lowest weight since 2018 with an average of 342kg. Prime cattle slaughter for the final month of 2023 fell annually by 14% as well as monthly by 19%, totalling 150,800 head. Reports suggest poor weather has impacted finishing ability.


Likewise, to trends seen in October, fresh and frozen beef trade grew into November. Imports continued to increase into November (up 2% versus October), albeit by a smaller increase than last month. In comparison to the same period in 2022 imports grew by 6% - totalling of 20,160 tonnes. Beef exports also rose in November up 15% month on month and 10% year on year, totalling 11,157 tonnes – the highest figure seen so far in 2023.

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