There is a real shortage of top-quality Prime beef available, this is down to Slaughter plants working reduced hours and low kills. Estimated slaughter of prime cattle was 32,500 head in the week, around 1% lower than the week before and 5% lower than the same week last year.
Prime steak meat is in high demand due to a lack of slaughtered prime cattle and no imported alternative; reports of supply side tightness in the market are set to remain while the Retail/Supermarket demand continues to put huge pressure on availability, with prices rising week on week on the selected cuts.
Fresh imported Steak meat is not available other than the European with limited numbers for the foreseeable future, this is down to importers not shipping due to the pandemic and uncertainty in the trade.
As demand improves and places start to come out of lock down and reopen there is going to be an 8-week period where prices will be set based on demand.
Cattle prices are currently already higher now 43.5 pence per Kg higher than the same period last year and higher than at any time seen in the last 5 years; with the lack of imported beef to offer as an immediate alternative price on finished Cattle is expected to continue to increase.
When restrictions are eased, we expect product to tighten even more and put pressure on pricing.
Cow prices also rose again estimated cow slaughter was 10,400 head, 100 head lower than last week and 700 head lower than a year ago.
A total of 73,300 tonnes of beef and veal was produced in February, lower due to fewer cattle slaughtering’s. Prime cattle slaughter for the month was 1% lower year-on-year at 159,900 head, largely driven by lower steer kill (-2%). Heifer slaughter was also lower in February (-1%), although the young bull kill rose by 3%.