Market report: Red meat supplies continue to be tight

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.