Meat market round-up: Lamb price up as beef slumps

Following a slight lift for the Easter trade in the previous week, lamb markets to Tuesday 14 April rose again, with 42,648 hoggets sold at auction to average 215.56p/kg.

This was a rise of 2.56p/kg on a throughput that was more than 5% lower.

Numbers were also down in the new-season lamb rings, with 4,291 head of SQQ animals sold live in the week to Tuesday averaging 262.50/kg, up by 2.3p/kg.

See also: Coronavirus: Pig producers could feed waste milk, says the NPA

However, numbers were down by less than 1% compared with the previous week.

While demand is expected to be well down on normal levels, the start of Ramadan on 23 April offers a brighter spot in the lamb trade.

Export business continues only at very low levels as some independent outlets reopen in France, but the big wholesale markets remain closed.

Several UK lamb killing plants have moved to working just two to three days a week, as this sector is among those hardest hit by the closure of food service outlets, said the British Meat Processors Association.

The deadweight trade to Saturday 11 April recorded useful increases, despite old- and new-season lamb throughputs being up by 15% and 18%, respectively.

Old-season SQQ lambs averaged 457.6p/kg, up 17.7p for the 34,330 head reported, while new-season lamb rose by more than 19p/kg to average 509p/kg across 1,101 head of SQQ weights.

Prime beef

Finished cattle came under further pressure in markets in the week to Tuesday 14 April.

Carcass balancing on a high demand for mince remains a significant challenge for the sector, as it adjusts to the loss of food service demand.

Prime cattle prices fell by just over 2p/kg across all classes to average 187.75p/kg. This was despite a 16% fall in numbers, due partly to the Easter break and abattoirs operating on varying days.

This saw the steer average down by almost 1p/kg to average 183.04p/kg, a drop of almost 1p on an 11% smaller throughput.

The heifer average lost 1.6p to settle at 195.53p/kg on an 18% drop in numbers.

Deadweight prices in the week to 11 April reflected a similar trend, with cow prices taking the biggest hit, averaging 233.7p/kg – a fall of more than 15p/kg on the week.

Steer, heifer and young bull prices all fell by between 5p/kg and 10p/kg on the previous week, with R4L steers averaging 342.9p/kg, R4L heifers at 341.4p and R3 young bulls at 320p/kg.

Pigs

The pig sector provides a relatively bright spot, with strong retail demand. Prices are steady, with the standard pig price losing just 0.26p/kg to stand at 163.63p/kg for the GB EU spec in the week to 11 April.

This was on a 7% drop in numbers, which, in turn, followed a 3.5% fall in the previous week.

While the UK has seen a steady rise in pig prices over the past year, these remain well below the levels being paid in Denmark, Germany, Spain and Ireland.

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