Mintec report points to difficult trading period for UK meat industry

The latest Mintec update on meat and livestock, published 17 April, paints a disappointing picture of falling prices and challenging circumstances, including the Russian ban on EU pig meat, creating difficult trading conditions across much of the UK industry.

UK beef prices are falling, due to increased production driven by higher steer and heifer throughputs. Slaughterings were up 1% year-on-year in February, at 182,300 head. Beef and veal production in February was up 2% year-on-year (YOY) to 71,000 tonnes (t).

However, there has been strong growth in the beef export trade, especially with Ireland, where YOY trade was up 45% in December to 4,343t. Overall, beef exports grew 13% year-on-year to 10,317t.

UK pork producers are continuing to suffer the effects of falling prices following the Russian ban on EU pork, which was introduced in January 2014. This has been exacerbated by rising UK pork production. In February 2015, UK pig meat production increased 6% YOY to 70,500t, the highest figure since 2000. Private Storage Aid for pig meat was introduced at the end of February in the EU in an attempt to help stabilise the pork price by limiting supply.

It is a more positive picture for lamb producers, as prices in both the UK and EU have increased recently due to increased demand in the build-up to Easter. However, prices remain below the levels seen two weeks prior to Easter in 2014.

Lamb slaughterings were up year-on-year, and in January, 1.1 million head were slaughtered, an annual increase of 8%, due to a larger numbers of lambs being carried over to 2015. This, combined with higher carcase weights, led to sheep meat production in January 2015 increasing 3% YOY to 26,300t.

Prices on UK chicken have started to fall in recent weeks as demand has been low and supply has been good. A total of 84 million birds were slaughtered in January. The average weight of a bird at slaughter was 2.25kg, unchanged compared with the same period last year.

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