GB finished cattle prices have continued to climb in the latest week. The GB all prime average stood at 407.3p/kg, up 1.1p on the week before. This puts the measure 87p above the same week last year and 67.6p above the five-year average.
The estimated slaughter for the week totalled 34,000 head, up 3.5% (1,200 head) on the previous week, but virtually unchanged (-0.3%) compared to the same week last year.
Looking at retail volumes, GB household beef purchases continue to hold their ground. While retail volumes sold dropped back 4.7% year-on-year in the 12 weeks to 18 April, this is compared to the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, with total beef volumes lifting 11% compared to the same period two years ago.
However, as we continue to come out of lockdown and food services begin to re-open, some of this demand will undoubtedly shift back out of home, which could lessen demand for British cattle. The impact of this on GB prices is yet to be seen.
Price increases were seen across all prime categories except young bulls, down 1.5p on the previous week, while R4L steers saw the largest increase (+2.5p) to average 418.4p/kg.
Cow trade also firmed in the latest week, with GB prices lifting 0.8p to average 280.3p/kg in the week ending 1 May. This puts prices 64.3p above the same week in 2020. For those meeting the -O4L specification, prices lifted 1.7p on the previous week to an average of 297.0p/kg for the week.
Estimated cow throughput was up 300 head (3.2%) on the previous week to a total of 10,100 head for the week. This is 600 head more than the same week last year.
The domestic supply side is forecast to remain tight for some time to come. Tighter supplies and higher prices may also help explain why cattle appear to be coming forward slightly younger than is typical for the time of year, a trend not seen for some time. As previously noted, tight supplies and rising prices continue to dictate the market.
Prices on imported beef supply are currently 10-15% up across all primals on previous levels driven by uncertainty in the market and are expected to be in place for the next 6-8 weeks until the market settles and re-opens fully from May 17th. Suppliers are reluctant to commit to volumes and export full containers of single items due to a lack of clarity around sales.