Strong demand keeps beef prices high

A global shortage of beef will drive UK prices up in the medium term, but farmers must become stronger sellers if they are to survive that long.

Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association, told farmers at last week’s Beef and Growing Cattle event at Hatherleigh, Devon, that strong demand and higher prices were here to stay.

“There is an increasing scarcity of cattle, which is being driven by an EU deficit – the export demand is real. The market will continue to grow and get a little stronger every day – we haven’t seen that for 10 years.”

GB R4L prices averaged almost 210p/kg last week – considerably better than the 154p/kg averaged in October last year, said Mr Forster.

Cow values were particularly strong, but this could encourage less profitable farmers to cash in and sell up unless prime beef values followed suit, warned Mr Forster.

“Retail prices are on the rise – but will they rise quickly enough to convince our non-profitable farmers not to bail out?”

Producers needed 250-260p/kg to survive, he said. “There are too many finishers in the south west who are bad sellers – they are taking poor prices rather than demanding more. The market is on your side and you must take advantage of that.”

For more information:

Belgian Blue x Limousin steer stars at Hatherleigh Beef and Growing Cattle event