UK lamb and beef production on the rise, figures show

The forthcoming festival of Eid al-Adha is expected to further boost lamb demand
The forthcoming festival of Eid al-Adha is expected to further boost lamb demand

UK lamb slaughterings for June totalled nearly 1 million – up 8.9 percent on the same month last year, according to statistics by Defra.

The newly-released figures show that lamb and beef production is on the rise, giving a valuable insight into current market price trends.

It follows a series of monthly figures during the spring which suggested that the number of animals being processed was lower than the same period last year.

June figures released by Defra show lamb slaughterings totalled at 987,800 head – an increase of 8.9% year-on-year.

Prime cattle throughput for the same period stood at 175,500 animals, up 10.6% on June 2019, with total production at 80,100 tonnes – 11.5% higher than a year ago.

According to Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, dry conditions during spring led to animals bred in grass-based farming systems being slower to finish, so are only now coming onto the market.

HCC data analyst Glesni Phillips said: “The increased June figures mean that beef production for the first half of 2020 is now similar to last year.

“In terms of lamb, the higher figures for June suggest that we are seeing more animals coming forward, now that grass-growing conditions have improved.

"This is promising as sheep meat production for the first half of 2020 is currently 10.3% below 2019 levels, despite the increased production seen in June.”

She added that the lower throughput in the first half of the year, combined with lower imports of Irish beef and NZ lamb, and domestic demand for fresh meat, had kept farm-gate prices relatively buoyant of late.

"Despite the loss of the eating-out market, the fact that British consumers have responded so positively to campaigns promoting steaks and other premium cuts has meant demand has remained strong.”

The forthcoming festival of Eid al-Adha should further boost lamb demand, Ms Phillips said, but the outlook for prices for the rest of the year was uncertain.

"HCC will monitor closely how consumer demand shifts with the gradual reopening of the foodservice sector, both in Britain and our key export markets,” she added.