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Menu Fresh Meat Market Report – August 2021

At Menu Fresh we aim to provide information on the meat sector across the United Kingdom, Europe, and the world. We can help advise you and your chefs on the market changes as well as approximate pricing changes throughout the sector.


The Islamic festival of Eid-al Adha continued to support demand this last few weeks During the week ending 14 July the GB liveweight NSL SQQ stood at 251.21p/kg up 0.95p on the week. On a seasonal basis, prices have remained strong. Throughputs stand at 124,000 head for the week, up 10% week-on-week. Cull ewe throughputs were also strong at 66,000 head.

Deadweight lambs NSLSQQ up 27.6p, to 546.4p/kg. Still over 60 p/kg higher than a year ago

Lamb and ewe kill both once again recorded large year-on-year declines during June, according to Defra data. Total sheep meat production stood at 19,800 tonnes, down 12%.

Although prices have softened in the market, we have yet to see that impact from the processors. With demand for trim still going strong with pricing being impacted

Processors are having severe difficulties with staff shortages and absenteeism through track & trace, many firms were operating with 10% fewer staff than they needed. The latest increase in absences has added to the problem, they are seeing 1 in 10 members of staff being told to self-isolate.

This has resulted in some processors reducing their range to compensate for skilled workers being unavailable.

If the UK workforce situation deteriorates further, companies will be forced to start shutting down production lines altogether.

Offers for Australian and New Zealand lamb are now coming through, but the price points are putting importers off purchasing

There is much anticipation of where lamb prices may go next. The number of lambs coming forwards over the past few months has been below our expectations. If and when these lambs make an appearance is a key question for many in the industry. reports that lambs are being held back to keep levels where they are.

Uncertainty surrounds Lamb, lack of imports, numbers & production down hospitality fully open with larger functions now allowed demand for certain cuts and availability is making the cost on a lamb disproportionate.


Although still under pressure the chicken market seems to have steadied itself. The avian influenza (A1)epidemic seems all but over, there have been no new outbreaks of avian flu which has taken some pressure off securing livestock for production. hopefully, we will see overall availability improving over the coming months.

There have been slight movements upon the Turkey front though, lack of availability with fewer stocks being put down and a lack of frozen stocks will lead to increases going forward on all Turkey products.


The EU-spec SPP continued to climb this week gaining 0.92p to average 159.88p/kg The current quote is the highest since last September. Robust domestic demand at a retail level has helped support the British price, while live pig supplies have declined compared to earlier in the year.

Estimated slaughter fell by 2% on the previous week to 175,100 head. This was still 2% higher than last year. Slaughter has now been above year-earlier levels for 21 consecutive weeks, but the annual growth has narrowed recently. This week’s slaughter estimate was also the lowest since January, indicating the lower supplies currently available.

We have already seen some increases across many prime cuts over the last month with strengthening on some cuts especially ribs seeing a significant increase with demand leading to higher pricing.

Strong export demand from Asia is still supporting the EU Pork market, with some significant year on year growth, Spain 70%, Netherlands 37% and Denmark 22%, Germany declined 40% due to the fact it has lost access to the Chinese market with having African Swine Fever (ASF) in Wild Boar. Germany has also confirmed that African Swine Fever (ASF) has now reached the domestic pig population in Germany. The virus was found on 2 small farms in Brandenburg state in Eastern Germany. Only time will see the impact this may have.

With restrictions eased and hospitality fully open we expect the product to become tighter putting pressure on pricing.


Prime Cattle prices rose again last week with the best Steers & Heifers just shy of 410.0kg and the average at 400.0 kg. This has the price .39 p above the same week a year ago and 49p above the 5-year average.

All cattle categories enjoyed price growth, with the overall average steer and heifer price both rising by 1.6p.

Prime cattle throughput at GB abattoirs was estimated to be 31,400 head for the week, down 3% on the week before and down 7% on the same week a year ago. Total prime cattle throughputs so far this year (to the w/e 10 July) are estimated to be 3% lower than the same period in 2020. With combines soon to be rolling for many, cattle throughputs could show increased tightness in the weeks ahead.

Cull cows are also up again with the price being 32p kg higher than the same week last year. Estimated cow slaughter at GB abattoirs totalled 10,400 head, up 7% on the week before but down 7% year-on-year. Cow slaughter for the year so far (to the week ending 10 July) is estimated to be 275,000 head, down 4% on the same period in 2020.

British Cattle Movement Service figures indicate a tighter supply of cattle on the GB market in the short term, along with tighter supplies in Ireland. This position could support farmgate prices, especially if the demand for locally sourced beef at retail stays relatively firm.

Irish cattle slaughterings are down 7 % for the period January to June 19th for the same period last year. Tighter cattle supplies have contributed to lower kills so far in 2021.

Demand for Steaks is strong seeing significant increases across the range. Imported beef cuts are showing major increases on current and forward pricing.

Availability, labour, and transport shortages are adding to the challenges for the UK Beef sector

China is playing a major role in global beef pricing, with demand from China, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay overkilled and with Argentina they slaughtered 50% more than normal in a 12-month period, Brazil and Uruguay followed suit which has severely depleted cattle numbers has contributed higher pricing.

The Argentinian Government has taken the action of an extended further 30-day export ban to China. This has caused further shortages for the European market. Argentina export approximately 63,000 tons of beef a month with 50,000 tonnes going to China, this shortfall has been put on Brazil and Uruguay meaning there will be less for Europe.

Prices for beef with restrictions eased and hospitality fully open including wedding venues with tighter supplies beef looks set to remain firm.

Delivery Issues

As mentioned last month, driver shortages are having a major impact across the supply chain, everyone in the chain is trying to secure drivers leading to rising wages which will in time reach the consumer’s pocket.

Lead times for deliveries have extended from an average of 24 hours to more than 80 hours and “On time in full have dropped from 99% down to 85%.

Members of leading trade organisations are warning that unless things improve, the Brexit labour crisis means a slowing down of production.

For abattoirs, this will mean delay taking livestock off farms, which has the potential to create animal welfare issues.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said: “While we have been lobbying for some time for easements to the immigration legislation, for butchers to be added to the shortage occupation list, we have to recognise that the international Covid situation will be a barrier to solving the problem with labour from other countries.”

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