Beef prices to strengthen as supplies slow

Tighter local and global beef supplies are expected in 2015, and this will help to underpin GB producer prices, according to experts.

New UK and Ireland cattle data show that the number of cattle aged between 18 and 24 months of age on GB farms in October was down around 6% on year-earlier levels, with the number of cattle aged between six and 18 months down 1%.

Meanwhile, Quality Meat Scotlands (QMS) head of economics services Stuart Ashworth said that similar patterns can be seen in Europe and Ireland, with reports of fewer one- to two-year-old cattle on their holdings.

He explained: Piecing together all this information, then, we can conclude that at local and European level the number of cattle available for slaughter will be lower in 2015 than 2014.

Ashworth added that, aside from Brazil, which is showing growth in production, the picture is much the same around the world: Recent forecasts published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimate global beef production will be down just over 1% in 2015 compared to 2014.

Major suppliers to the world market the US and Australia are forecast to see production fall 2% and 6% respectively.

He concluded that while there is still potential for further volatility, the general tightness of global beef supplies over the next 12 months will help to underpin producer prices.

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