Beef production lifts again in May

Thursday, 10 June 2021

By Bronwyn Magee

According to the latest data from Defra, UK beef production was 1.2% higher in May compared to the same month last year.

A total of 73,800 tonnes of beef and veal was produced in May, 900 tonnes more than the same month a year ago. This increase was driven by a lift in both average carcase weights, and adult cattle slaughter.

In May, adult cattle slaughter increased 10% on year earlier levels, to total 50,400 head. Most of this increase can be attributed to an increase in cow throughput, up 4,400 head year-on-year to 49,000 head. Adult bull throughput also lifted, up 200 head to 1,400 head. Notable increases were also seen in cull cow carcases weights, up 8.3kg (3%) year-on-year to average 311.5kg.

Conversely, prime cattle slaughter for the month fell 2% (3,300 head) on the year, totalling 165,400 head. This decline was mainly drive by a fall in heifer slaughter (-5%), with steer throughput also dropping back (-3%). Young bull slaughter had strong growth (+9%), although this was not enough to outweigh losses in other prime categories.

Prime throughput in England and Wales saw the largest decline in slaughter levels, dropping back 7% (8,000 head), while Scotland also fell by 5% (2,000 head). Throughput in Northern Ireland increased, up 28% (7,000 head) compared to the same month in 2020.

Prime carcase weights increased marginally year-on-year, by 0.3% (0.9kg) to average 346.7kg.

While production has increased in May, total production for the year-to-date is still 2% lower compared to the same period last year, totalling 374,900 tonnes. This is more in line with our expectations, although so far slightly less of a decline than forecast. Our next outlook will be published in July.

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