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UK beef production strong in February

Thursday, 12 March 2020

UK beef production was 74,900 tonnes in February, according to data from Defra. This is 1.5% higher than a year ago, and mostly a consequence of heavier carcase weights. 163,400 head of prime cattle were slaughtered, 2,000 more than a year ago. 52,100 cows came forward, 1,000 fewer than a year ago.

Carcase weights remain high. Prime cattle averaged over 350kg in February, 2kg more than in January and 2.5kg heavier than February last year. Cows averaged over 314kg in February, 3kg more than in January, and 2.7kg heavier than a year ago. Heavier carcases were one of the reasons behind oversupply in the market in 2019. Despite this, deadweight prices broadly rose throughout February indicating better processor demand. However, prices remain below both last year’s prices and the five-year average.

Population figures from BCMS indicated fewer cattle on the ground on 1 January, and so we are still expecting lower slaughter levels this year. Nonetheless, this has not yet been reflected in throughputs.

Duncan Wyatt

Lead Analyst - Red Meat

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