Weekly cattle & sheep market wrap – 30 May 2024

Thursday, 30 May 2024

Prices for week ending 25 May 2024

Key points:

  • Average deadweight prime cattle prices eased over the latest reporting week, with more supplies forward against a firm consumer demand picture
  • Cow prices saw growth, with increasing demand for VL providing strength to pricings.
  • The GB NSL SQQ dipped compared to the previous week, as more lambs come forward.
  • New analysis shows lamb outperformed other proteins during Easter, as supermarkets enticed new customers with promotional activity.


GB deadweight cattle prices continued to ease over the latest reporting week, with the all-prime average sitting at 480.8p/kg for the week ending 25 May. This was a weekly decline of 3.1p, the largest drop seen since the end of March. Prices remain pressured on last year’s levels, down by 11p for the week. The overall heifer price saw the largest decline on the week of 3.3p to average 480.5p/kg. Steer prices saw a similar declines, with the overall price down 3.1p from the previous week to 482.7p/kg. The young bull category saw a 1.3p drop overall to 470.1p/kg.

The overall cow price saw growth compared to the previous week’s slight decline, sitting at 364.2p/kg, up 2.8p. Industry commentary suggests that decent weather forecasted in coming weeks is spurring on procurement for grilling season, with prices for key products including VLs and steaks seeing growth.

Nevertheless, all regions saw price declines in the steer and heifer categories, with notable movements in both categories in Scotland. Central and Southern steer throughputs were up 26 - 36% from the previous week, with a 9% increase in the Northern region, and a 14% fall in Scotland. Changes in heifer throughputs were less significant.

Prime estimated throughputs grew for the week, up 500 head to 35,400 head. This was also a 5% increase compared to 2023. Looking at the year to date, prime slaughter is up just over 2% compared to last year. Cow throughputs saw a weekly decline of 200 head to total an estimated 8,000 head, growth of 100 head from the same week last year.


GB deadweight sheep prices have seen declines in the latest week, with the NSL SQQ sitting at 893p/kg. This was a decline of 34p compared to the previous week but remained 160p above the same time last year. The GB OSL SQQ price also saw a decline of 10p on the week, to 817p/kg. The OSL average remained elevated by 170p from the same time last year.

GB estimated SQQ kill dipped compared to the previous week, sitting at just under 170,000 head for the week ending 25 May. This was a fall of 9,500 head from the previous week, and a decline of 38,000 head from the same week in 2023. The number of old season lambs coming forward dipped on the week by 20% as more spring lambs start to come in. The number of NSLs in our deadweight price sample grew by nearly 52% from the previous week, which may explain the drop in pricing.

On the export front, prices from the Rungis wholesale market in Paris were stable through the week but have since shown slight downturn in more recent days. Some price has been taken out across fat classes, indicating a potential softening of demand. French market reports show that domestic sheep slaughter there also ticked up after a few weeks of lower kill, adding more supply to the market.

Latest analysis on official Easter retail data shows that lamb was the best performing red meat, in terms of year-on-year volume growth, up almost 14% from Easter 2023. Lamb roasting joints performed particularly well, enticing almost 300,000 new shoppers to purchase compared to 2023. This was primarily driven by supermarket promotions that provided temporary price reductions to customers.

Image of staff member Izzy Shohet

Izzy Shohet

Analyst (Red Meat)

See full bio

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