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Agribusiness News June 2023 – Beef

2 June 2023

Beef price steadies

The Scottish finished beef price has steadied in May to 511p/kg deadweight, whilst prices have started to drop slightly south of the border and ROI prices are significantly less than Scotland at around 460p/kg.  Numbers available in Scotland have been tighter this spring partly due to the numbers of store cattle that went south last year and the ongoing beef cow herd reduction.

Processors will be glad to see the young bulls coming onstream now which will help lift numbers over the next couple of months, whilst steer and heifer availability looks to remain tight.

Traditionally, prime cattle availability drops in the summer months, with a lift in the beef price usually seen August and September when numbers are especially tight.  With the current record high beef price, it is an unknown how much it can or will rise over the summer.

With expensive store cattle bought this spring and fed on higher priced cereals over the last few months, it may be difficult for these cattle to leave much of a margin, with some finishers needing 540p/kg to breakeven.  They will be hopeful of a price lift during the summer.

With the big spring store cattle sales now behind us, numbers are dropping at weekly sales with less short keep cattle available.  Recent grass growth has improved the demand for grazing types.

Cull cows

Cull cow prices remain high at around 440p/kg for R4L cows (making prime cattle look cheap!).  However, numbers available will fall in line with seasonal trends but demand looks to remain high as we move into BBQ season.

Optimism returns to breeding herds?

The returns some breeders have received for their calf crops this spring should have put a bit of enthusiasm back into the breeding job, even with the higher input costs experienced last winter.

Thankfully, both cereal and fertiliser prices have fallen this spring and cattle prices have remained high which should provide more optimism for the sector.

Breeding cattle sales throughout May have shown a strong demand for replacements with large price increases on the year, especially for heifers with calves at foot.  This is unsurprising considering the value of cull cows and those keen on keeping cows are willing to reinvest considerably in what they want.

Future food supplies

The UK farm to fork summit held at Downing Street in mid-May was an opportunity for the Government to show that they took the food industry and farming seriously and that after recent food shortages in supermarkets there is a need to focus on the importance of domestic production to ensure a sustainable supply of food.  It will be interesting to see what, if any, measures are put in place to assist food producers with this.

New importation rules for all meats and cheeses come into force in November 2023 which require vet approvals on all imports which will increase the costs on these products and so may reduce the levels of imports.

Focusing on Sustainability – Events

Scottish Beef Association – 6th June

Scotland’s Beef Event 2023 will be hosted by the Landale Family, Dalswinton Estate, Dumfries, DG2 0XZ.  Schedule of Events here.

Chewing the cud on cows and carbon – 15th June

Funded by the University Innovation Fund, SAC consulting is organising a technical beef day at Upper Raddery Farm, Fortrose by kind permission of Andrew and Mary-Jo Grant.  To book a space call SAC Consulting Elgin office 01343 548787. , 01307 464033

beef cows grazing

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