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Agribusiness News March 2023 – Beef

28 February 2023

Record Prime Cattle Prices

Prime cattle prices have continued on an upward trend, reaching record highs in recent weeks due to reduced supplies.  At the time of writing, Scotch R4L grading steers were sitting around 482p/kg.  The continuing shortage of cattle throughout the UK, alongside a strong Irish price is pushing beef prices to a record levels with processors having to pay out more to secure numbers.  Reports suggest that in the short term, the finished price could increase further.

Southern Demand Fuelling Higher Prices

English demand for cattle continues to be a driving force in the store ring, fuelling price rises as bigger heavier types are highly sought after as English finishers actively look to source these.  Given that English buyers are prepared to pay more for heavier cattle, due to heavier weight limits; increasing numbers of cattle are heading south.

Many Scottish finishers are now unwilling to compete for these expensive stores, with reports suggesting Scottish abattoirs might look at dropping their limits in order to maintain supply.

Beef Boom

Store cattle prices have continued to increase and are now being traded at never seen before prices.

Continental steers are averaging 300p kilo with heifers averaging 290p/kg.  Many suckler producers are taking advantage of the strong store trade, opting to sell now instead of the spring sales.

The current beef boom is offering great encouragement, coupled with a recent drop in fertiliser and grain prices.  There is a lot of positivity and optimism currently.  However, margins continue to be squeezed for finishers with the high prices being paid in the store ring.

Strong Cull Cow Trade

For yet another consecutive month, cow trade remains strong, with prices in the live ring continuing upwards.  Beef cow numbers are now tightening due to the volume of cull cows already slaughtered, so those now available are breaking records at markets throughout the country.  Week on week markets are reporting new record highs.

The strong cull price has undoubtedly been a major factor in decisions made on farm with regards to suckler cows, however lack of succession and tenancy issues have also influenced the numbers forward.

With milk prices potentially dropping, there could be an influx of dairy cows available, which will help with demand for manufacturing beef.

Strong Prices Lead to Optimism

While a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many farmers are still feeling the effects with many businesses struggling with cash flow following 2022’s inflated input costs; optimism amid store cattle prices and fat cattle being at recorded levels was reflected at the recent spring bull sales where bulls met a buoyant trade after strong demand from commercial buyers.


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