Beef margins improve but still no profit for most

English beef producers’ net margins improved last year, but most continued to make a loss, according to a new benchmarking report from EBLEX.

It showed that lowland suckler producers lost an average of £236.72/cow, with even the top third of producers losing £58.28. The figures included family labour, rent and interest on working capital, but excluded income from the Single Payment, environmental stewardship or diversification.

Less favoured area suckler producers lost £182/cow, with only the top third making a positive net margin of £7.59. Store rearers lost £46.68, with finishers (18 months and over) losing £88.81.

Finishers up to 16 months were the only sector with a positive net margin, averaging £27.62/cow, with some animals sold as stores, said the report. Combined rearers and finishers lost an average of £314.50 a head.

Although there were clear improvements in all net margins compared to the previous year, the gap between the average and top third producers remained high, at up to £190 a cow, said senior EBLEX analyst Carol Davies.

“The top third spend significantly less on fixed costs; this continues to be a key focus area for producers seeking to improve their margins.”