Prime cattle prices at 'highest for many years'



8 September 2020


Prime cattle finishers have seen major recovery in returns from the low point of the April Covid market disruption and are experiencing some of the highest farmgate prices for years, according to Quality Meat Scotland.


Only twice in the past decade, in 2013 and 2017, have farmgate cattle prices been higher at this time of year than they currently are, QMS said.


Beef prices across Europe have also firmed over the past quarter although they have lost some ground in the past couple of weeks.


However, in contrast to the UK, farmgate prices across Europe, although much higher than a year ago, do not match prices in 2018 nor those of earlier in the decade.


“The UK has one of the highest producer prices for beef across Europe and the world, and the gap has widened in the past quarter,” said Stuart Ashworth, Director of Economics Services at QMS.


“That would suggest that the UK would be an attractive export market for European countries like Ireland, although it is protected from other international suppliers by EU tariffs and trade agreements.”


Nevertheless, and despite trade data collected by UK Customs being slow to be published, according to Mr Ashworth, there is little evidence that UK imports of beef have increased in response to firm domestic prices.


“In the first six months of 2020 beef imports are reported to have been lower than last year,” he added.


“Lower demand from out of home eating, a sector which is sensitive to the cost of materials used in meal preparation, is likely to have reduced demand for imported meat."


The firming of UK prices has occurred despite higher volumes of prime cattle...