Weekly cattle & sheep market wrap – 06 June 2024

Thursday, 6 June 2024

Key points

Prices for the week ending 01 June 2024

  • GB deadweight cattle prices eased as supplies remain above year-ago levels. Steers averaged 481p/kg overall, down 2p on the week.
  • The new season SQQ slipped seasonally as more spring lambs come forward, with the measure averaging 850p/kg (-43p).
  • Latest retail figures show consumer demand for beef and lamb remains solid, with procurement for the upcoming Eid festival adding support for lambs.


GB deadweight prime cattle prices continued to lose ground in the week ending 1 June, although declines softened from the week prior. Cattle numbers reduced with the bank holiday but were still more plentiful on the year. Consumer demand for beef remains robust, with latest GB retail figures (12 weeks to 12 May) highlighting positive annual moves for numerous cuts, particularly burgers, sous vide and mince.

More recent market commentary suggests that competitive Irish imports are combining with current domestic cattle supply to put pressure on GB cattle prices. Official import figures from HMRC lag by a couple of months, but the current price position of GB and Irish cattle would potentially corroborate. In the week beginning 20 May, the average Irish R3 steer price was nearly 50p below the equivalent GB measure. The gap has narrowed since the start of the year but is still on the wider end of historic ranges.

Looking at the latest GB prices, steers eased by nearly 2p to average 481p/kg in the week ending 1 June. Heifers lost a penny to average 479p/kg, while young bulls lowered by just 0.1p to 470p/kg. Cows lost 3p overall to average 361p/kg, the largest weekly decline so far this year.

GB prime cattle slaughter reduced by 8% on the week to an estimated 32,600 head but was up 2,100 head (7%) on the year. Cow throughput eased by 1,100 head to total 6,900 head during the week but stood-on versus a year ago. We are currently at the seasonal low point for cow slaughter; from now we would expect weekly throughputs to begin picking up towards the end of the year.


GB deadweight new season lamb prices saw seasonal pressure in the week ending 1 June, as more lambs came forwards. The overall NSL SQQ averaged 850p/kg, down 43p on the week but up 141p on the year. Market reports suggest recent changeable weather is showing in the general quality of lambs forward, with leaner types potentially affecting averages.

Weekly estimated GB clean sheep slaughter (new and old season) reduced by 7% with the bank holiday, to 158,100 head. Overall numbers remained tighter on the year, down 12% for the week. Within the AHDB sheep price reporting sample, spring lamb numbers rose by 22% on the week, while hogget numbers continued to reduce.

The GB old season SQQ continued to ease, down 23p to average 794p/kg. This was still 155p ahead of the same point a year ago.

From a demand perspective, GB retail data to the 12 May shows strong annual growth in total lamb volumes, particularly roasting. This was helped by Easter-related promotions.

Insight since Easter suggest that retail demand has continued to hold firm, with reports noting that procurement for Eid al-Adha is adding support to the trade. Elsewhere, lamb prices from Rungis market in France softened during the week but remain historically firm.