Welsh body reports on subdued beef demand in 2014

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) reported a “testing time” for beef producers as it reflected on 2014.

The sector suffered significantly reduced prime cattle prices last year, “which had a detrimental effect on enterprise profitability and confidence”.

The organisation said that throughout most of the year, GB prime cattle prices were considerably lower than levels experienced in 2013, with the disparity most apparent in summer when a week-on-week comparison of deadweight prices showed a difference of 70p/kg.

Charlie Morris, HCC industry information officer, explained: “Consumer demand for beef was generally subdued last year. The industry was also forced to deal with the availability of increased volumes of cheaper, imported beef on shop shelves, thus applying additional pressure on Welsh prices.”

Between January and October, UK beef import volumes increased by 5%, with 70% of this being sourced from Ireland.

Late autumn and winter did see the situation improve, with the GB all prime cattle average price standing at 359p/kg by the last week of 2014. Furthermore, exports of beef from the UK rose by 7% in the first 10 months of 2014, and Morris said: “Export destinations could prove to be valuable outlets for beef from Wales over the next 12 months.”

HCC believes the picture is more positive for this year: “The outlook for 2015 suggests a reduced supply of domestic and imported beef, due to fewer cattle on the ground. This indicates an upward momentum in prime cattle prices in the year to come.”

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