Beef prices unlikely to recover until late 2014

Beef prices are unlikely to recover over the summer, according to the latest Eblex outlook.

UK supplies of beef and veal remain higher than in 2013 but should tighten up later this year and into the next, the quarterly report said.

The levy board slightly raised its forecast beef production for 2014 to 875,000t – 6,000t higher than in the April outlook.

But production in 2015 is forecast to be 2% down on the year as lower numbers prevail over heavier carcass weights.

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“Unless consumer demand picks up markedly, it looks unlikely there will be any significant resumption of upwards pressure on price over the summer months,” Eblex said.

“However, the forecasts for availability later this year and into 2015 offer a more positive picture.

“With lower production, increased exports and lower imports, supplies available on the UK market next year are forecast to be lower than in 2014, meaning that possibility of firmer prices is improved.”

For the sheep sector, Eblex expected the lamb supply to remain higher for the rest of 2014 and into 2015.

Slaughterings are expected to be more than 5% higher on the year in 2014 as a whole, with a bigger ewe flock and better weather.

Total sheep meat production is forecast to be more than 4% up on 2013 at 302,000t as lower mutton production limits the impact of the rise in lamb.

“However, overall supplies are still expected to be in line with post-2010 levels and are relatively tight when compared with historic volumes,” Eblex said.