Cattle and Sheep Weekly
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Cattle and Sheep Weekly

26 November 2021

Prime cattle prices edge up further

GB deadweight finished cattle prices inched up again in the week ending 20 November.

The all-prime average measure stood at 412.0p/kg for the week, up 0.7p on the week before. This is 39p above the price recorded for the same week a year ago.

Within this average, all categories experienced growth, with young bulls showing the largest price increase overall (+2.4p). Average steer and heifer prices also rose, by 0.6p and 0.7p overall, respectively. Beasts grading at R4L spec saw larger gains.

Click here for more detailed price breakdowns

Estimated prime cattle slaughter at GB abattoirs stood at 31,500 head for the week, up 7% from the week before but down 6% from the same week a year ago.
For cull cow prices, decline slowed in the latest week, with the overall measure virtually unchanged from the week before at 257.6p/kg (-0.1p). Cattle of –O4L spec lost more ground, down half a penny to 280.5p/kg. Like prime cattle, cow throughputs remained below year-ago levels at 12,700 head. This was also 2% lower than the week before, but still higher compared to previous weeks.

Lamb prices even higher

Liveweight lamb prices have continued to strengthen in the most recent week. Having fallen last week, this week prices gained back what was lost, and more. In the week ended 24 November the GB liveweight NSL SQQ rose by 4.4p to stand at 269.57p/kg. Throughputs slipped 3% week-on-week, to 117,000 head.
Meanwhile deadweight prices crept up, to just above the £6/kg mark. During the week ending 20 November the GB deadweight NSL SQQ gained 2.7p, to 600.1p/kg. Estimated kill for the week was below both last week and last year, by 3% and 17% respectively, at 240,200 head.

UK beef imports grow in September


According to data from HMRC, the UK imported 28,500 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef in September. This was 34% (circa 7,000 tonnes) more than was shipped during August, and during September a year ago.

Volumes increased from all key suppliers, most notably from Ireland (+5,100 tonnes). Historically, we have seen an uplift in UK beef import volumes in September compared to August, but this year the September figure is particularly high.

The September figures meant that year-to-date UK import volumes totalled 171,700 tonnes, 3% more than the same period a year ago. An 8% increase in the average price of these imports brought their total value to £725 million.

For fresh and frozen beef headed out of the UK, volumes totalled 8,300 tonnes in September, 8% below August and 9% below September a year ago.

Again, Ireland was the main influence, as 31% (1,300 tonnes) less beef was exported there compared to September 2020. More beef was sent to other destinations including France, Iran and the US.

For the year to the end of September, UK fresh and frozen beef exports totalled 72,000 tonnes, 17% below the same period a year ago. A 5% increase in the average price of these shipments brought their total value to £251 million.
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News in brief

Watch: our analysts Hannah and Rebecca wrap up the latest trends in beef and lamb markets over the past month.

Just over three years ago, China had its first outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF). At the start of 2019, there was a large surge in Chinese import demand for protein as the market looked to fill the gap left by the decline in pork production.
Is a “protein gap” opening up again, and what could this mean for the UK?

During the first eight months of 2021, EU beef production was 1% lower year-on-year in volume, totalling 4.4 million tonnes. For trade, friction between the EU and UK remains a key influence on volumes.

feed markets, both ex-farm feed wheat and barley continued their climb over the past month. Prices have been supported by both global and domestic factors.

Christmas is by far the biggest thing consumers are looking forward to over the next few months. Many will be wondering what this year’s festivities will look like, following the unprecedented Christmas of 2020.
What trends could we expect to see in grocery sales this year?


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