Beef prices rebound, extending premium over Irish imports

Tighter supplies of cattle and sustained demand at retail supported beef prices in September, with deadweight averages up by almost 40p/kg on the year.

Throughputs of prime cattle at UK abattoirs dropped back during the summer months and total beef and veal production is down by 1% for the year to date.

GB deadweight prices have been climbing, with steers up by 24p/kg since mid-August to average 479.3p/kg on 23 September, while heifers averaged 476.5p/kg.

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Prices have also ticked up in the live ring, with auctioneers reporting a strong trade, especially for well-finished, heavier cattle.

On the retail front, GB household beef purchases have remained firm, with total spend up 11% for the 12 weeks ending 3 September.


Finished cattle numbers are forecast to increase slightly during the autumn, according to industry estimates.

AHDB senior analyst Hannah Clarke said a larger population of 12-30-month-old cattle would suggest greater supplies for beef production through the remainder of the year.

However, the latest British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) data shows the total GB cattle herd has declined by 0.9% on year-earlier levels.

BCMS data also shows total GB calf registrations were down 2% overall during the first half of the year.

In Wales, dairy male calf registrations during the first six months of the year were 20% lower than in 2022.

Welsh levy board Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) analyst Glesni Phillips said: “Dairy male calf numbers have been in decline for some time, probably influenced by a combination of increased uptake of sexed semen on farm and new dairy calf management requirements. In 2021, males accounted for 37% of dairy registrations; now it’s just 30%.

“Moving forward, this will likely impact on the availability of animals for beef production within the supply chain.”


Beef prices in Ireland have been less supported and are currently at a significant discount to GB prices.

Ireland’s food board, Bord Bia, said prices within Ireland were down year-on-year, with R3 steers averaging €4.68/kg (406p/kg) deadweight, a discount of 86p/kg to GB R3 steer prices.

This is making Irish imports increasingly attractive to British retailers.

Fresh beef imports to the UK from Ireland were up 6% during the first seven months of the year, according to HMRC data.