Red meat production in the UK remained stable last year at 1.9m tonnes, according to recent DEFRA figures.

Beef and veal production increased by 0.8%, to 870,000t, driven by a 2% rise in prime cattle slaughterings, said the AHDB’s UK Market Survey. These totalled 2.1m head, with a 1% increase in carcass weights to 341.4kg, the heaviest annual average on record.

“However, there was a 10% decline in cow and adult bull slaughterings, to around half a million head. As a result cow and adult bull beef accounted for 18% of total beef and veal production compared with 20% in 2008,” the report stated.

Sheep meat production slumped by 6.1% to 306,000t, with total sheep slaughterings down by more than 1m head. “Both clean sheep and ewe slaughterings declined by 7%, bringing total slaughterings to 15.5m head,” said AHDB. “An increase in carcass weights helped to minimise the fall in sheep meat production; the average weight for lambs increased by 1% to 18.8kg.”

Clean pig slaughterings increased by 1% to 9.3m head, which, combined with an increase in slaughter weights, contributed to a 2.4% rise in pig meat production, to 757,000t.