What might be the effect of November’s lockdown on UK beef and lamb?

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

On Thursday, the UK will enter its second national lockdown. The expectation is that this lockdown will not have the same dramatic effects as the previous one.

Panic buying may be less prevalent this time. Consumers have seen the food supply chain operate effectively. British meat performs relatively well in retail, compared to imported meat over indexing in foodservice. Food service businesses (pub/restaurants) are more prepared now, and many have found a way of providing delivery/collection services. We begin this lockdown with takeaways in place, unlike in March.

Consumer confidence had not yet recovered to pre-COVID 19 levels, and so the foodservice market has less volume to lose, although significant disruption is still expected. Similarly, retail volumes are already elevated, and so are expected to increase but by less relative to last time. This second lockdown is likely to prolong some of the pain already being felt in the industry – have consumers pushed back their expectations of returning to “normal” where foodservice would function at full capacity and large social events etc. can happen again?

The supply chain would already have been gearing up for Christmas. As a result, there may be less available cold storage than in March to provide flexibility in the event of supply and demand mismatching. Any pre-Brexit stockpiling in the supply chain may also exacerbate this problem.

Slaughtering has remained remarkably resilient in the face of COVID-19, although processing capacity could be more vulnerable to a second wave, and the resultant staffing issues, more than the second lockdown per se. However, schools are expected to remain open, which could alleviate some staffing pressure compared to the first lockdown.




What about Christmas?

It’s too early to say if the lockdown will be extended into Christmas. The first lockdown period covered Easter, and lamb in particular underperformed. This is likely to be repeated if the second lockdown extends to Christmas, and would cover all meats, especially roasting joints. Many planned events, from office parties to concerts and weddings may not take place. However, as they did over the summer, more people would likely remain in the UK over the festive period than usual potentially boosting consumer demand.


Image of staff member Duncan Wyatt

Duncan Wyatt

Lead Analyst - Red Meat

See full bio

Sign up for regular updates

You can subscribe to receive Beef and Lamb market news straight to your inbox. Simply fill in your contact details on our online form.

Visit the Keep in touch page

While AHDB seeks to ensure that the information contained on this webpage is accurate at the time of publication, no warranty is given in respect of the information and data provided. You are responsible for how you use the information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, AHDB accepts no liability for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused or suffered (including that caused by negligence) directly or indirectly in relation to the information or data provided in this publication.

All intellectual property rights in the information and data on this webpage belong to or are licensed by AHDB. You are authorised to use such information for your internal business purposes only and you must not provide this information to any other third parties, including further publication of the information, or for commercial gain in any way whatsoever without the prior written permission of AHDB for each third party disclosure, publication or commercial arrangement. For more information, please see our Terms of Use and Privacy Notice or contact the Director of Corporate Affairs at info@ahdb.org.uk  © Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. All rights reserved.