UK beef production steady in October

Thursday, 11 November 2021

The UK produced 74,500 tonnes of beef in October, according to data from Defra. This was 500 tonnes more than in September, but 6,300 tonnes less than in October last year. Production has been running behind 2020 levels all year.

The effects of the terrible spring in 2018 have been felt all year, in some ways delayed by the pandemic which supported demand for British cattle. In an effort to meet that demand, prime cattle have been slaughtered slightly younger over the past 18 months, but with maintained carcase weights. Market reports suggest that more recently, processor demand has been relatively well balanced with supplies, and stable prices for prime cattle at least would support this view.

UK slaughter of prime cattle is 4% lower than in 2020.

Prime cattle slaughter was 159,700 head in October, 13,000 lower than a year ago, with declines seen across steers (-9%), heifers (-7%), and young bulls (-1%). This brings prime slaughter for the year so far to 1.64m head, 4% fewer than in 2020, and broadly in line with our forecast. Prime carcase weights did slip slightly to 341.3kg in October, and have averaged 346.6kg in the year to date.

61,800 cows were slaughtered in October, 4,650 fewer than in October last year. Given the prospect of sustained higher feed costs during the winter housing period, we might now expect cow slaughter to pick up. It has been behind 2020 levels since the summer. In the year to date 519,300 cows have been culled, 6% less than at the same point year ago.

Beef production in the year to date is 742,000 tonnes, 4% lower than last year, and again in line with forecast.

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