Beef prices level out but balance remains crucial

Beef prices appear to have stabilised after almost a year in decline. Over the past six weeks the R4L steer average has remained between 337.6p/kg and 340.5p/kg, with liveweight values for heifers and young bulls also levelling out.

“While this position is better news for producers, reports suggest that some processors remain cautious,” said a report by Eblex. Although consumer demand appeared to have improved perhaps due to the fine weather, carcass balance remained a significant issue with mince accounting for 54% of all beef sales in the month to 22 June.

Beef supplies were likely to tighten in the second half of the year, both within the UK and Ireland, said the report. Irish imports remained a dominant factor in the market, accounting for 72% of the 20,000t of fresh and frozen beef imported in May. Overall imports were 4% up on last year, with Irish shipments up by 14%. “As well as increased volumes, imports continued to be cheaper than they were a year ago, with average values during May down 8% on the year.”

Thwarted by the strong pound, exports fell by 5% on the year, it added.