Comparing GB cattle prices with retail performance

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

By Rebecca Wright

GB farmgate cattle prices have been in a downwards trend for approaching 12 months. One aspect that has caught much attention is the domestic retail price.

Looking back over the past five years there is very little link between GB farmgate and retail prices. Although the overall average retail price appears to fluctuate week-on-week, this is really because of changes in the weekly mix of products sold. For example whether consumers purchased more high or low value cuts in any given week, which can be influenced by promotions.

There are many factors at play in between the farmgate and shopping trolley. These include but are not limited to the cost of kill, cutting, labour, transportation, storage and packaging. Consumers could react negatively to regular sharp price changes on an individual product.

Recent retail updates clearly show a decline in the volume of some of the more expensive cuts, and rises in the lower value cuts, according to Kantar data. Burger and grill sales, which count as added value beef rather than primary, have recorded significant declines year-on-year having benefitted from the extended heatwave last year. Total overall beef protein volume and spend sales are down year-on-year over the past 52 weeks. The 12 week period up to 11 August records relatively static sales for overall beef. Market reports from MCA show that beef consumption in food service has declined.

Overall, based on Kantar data since the beginning of the year, retail demand has been struggling. In addition, it appears that ‘cheaper’ cuts have been taking up a higher proportion of sales than last year too. Of course retail is only one outlet for domestic beef, with foodservice and exports being important others.

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