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Agribusiness News April 2024 – Beef

1 April 2024

Weekly Price Drop for Finished Cattle

After slipping back weekly throughout March, at the time of writing (late March) finished cattle prices are sitting at 506p/kg/dwt (for R4L (Scottish steers).  With cattle supplies plentiful in recent weeks, processors have cut prices to reflect availability.  Reports suggest that cattle availability has exceeded expectations as finishers offload cattle due to the changes in the tax year.

Despite fat price dropping, the beef price remains strong and prime cattle prices remain elevated (+11p/kg compared to the same week last year).

Going forward, reports suggest that prices could be unpredictable due to 4-day weeks over Easter.  However, it is anticipated that prime cattle supplies will tighten from mid-April onwards, which should see a rise in the finished price.

Strong Retail Demand

Reports suggest that retail demand is currently strong.  Recent retail figures from AHDB show beef steaks performed well – up 1.7% over the same period – influenced by Valentines Day purchases.

AHDB also reported robust demand for mince, contributing to the trade for cull cows.  In recent weeks cull cow prices have marginally increased, currently sitting at 380p + /kg DW (R4L price).

It is anticipated that cow prices will rise as demand increases as we head toward bank holidays and potentially BBQ weather.  This, coupled with a drop in the numbers available should push up  prices.

Store Cattle Trade

Store cattle continue to be a strong trade, although not as brisk in previous weeks, with several markets reporting prices to be less.  The heavier stores 500kgs + are in demand as finishers look to turnaround these quickly within 100 days or so.

Early spring store sales are usually a good trade as finishers seek to fill sheds ahead of the start of arable spring work.  Once sowing starts/ sheds are filled; the demand from finishers may reduce, putting a dip in the store trade especially as some finishers are now thinking that store prices are getting ‘too dear’.

While to date, wet weather has been hindering turnout; heading into April, a spell of dry weather should increase demand for grazing type stores.


Revised Specifications from Processor

Following Kepak’s grid change in December, ABP have also recently announced revised specifications in a move to reflect market conditions and the greater influence of dairy beef bred animals.  This will see greater rewards for better bred dairy cross cattle.  The changes include 5p/kg bonuses for R+ cattle and weight restrictions being increased to 420kgs.

However, reports suggest that weight caps have been waived in recent months, due to tightening cattle supplies, with the revised limit announcement now simply providing official confirmation of this.  For those finishers buying yearling cattle at £1,600 a lift in weight limit will be a welcome relief.

Beef Support Scheme Payments (SSBSS)

Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme (SSBSS) 2023 payments have commenced.  The 2023 payment rates are:

Payments are £3.68 per head greater this year for Mainland calves and £6.76 per head for island calves due to less animals being claimed for in 2023.


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