Home/Market Reports/Meat & Fish/Meat & Fish Market Report – December 2021

Meat & Fish Market Report – December 2021


Supply Lines

There is still a huge amount of uncertainty over supply lines, with shipment delays, fuel prices increasing and container prices at historic highs. The cost of packaging is increasing. UK transport rates are also increasing at the beginning of December.

Fish prices continue to spiral upwards which we know is causing a huge amount of pain. Sadly, with what seems to be a global labour shortage on the back of the pandemic, the cost of processing and delivering fish and seafood is escalating.

The winter sees a good variety of wild fish at prime quality as the colder waters favour a number of species. However, changeable weather, increased demand for less fishing over the holiday season typically creates higher prices and shortages.

Species Ratings

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) ratings have recently been updated. Unfortunately, for those of you with strict guidelines over using 1-3 rated species only, a review will be necessary. Canadian and USA lobsters have moved from unrated to red – “avoid” (5). All native (UK) squid is now red rated. The majority of sources of monkfish have been downgraded to a 4, including all Scottish sources. Very sadly, UK caught coley has been downgraded from a 2 to a 4. Those of you who read this report regularly will know that we champion coley as a low cost and sustainable alternative. We hope to make Icelandic coley
(which remains rated 1) more regularly available. Watch this space!

Cod & Haddock

The cod and haddock quota was cut this year and many Scottish boats are nearing the end of their quota. UK boats still don’t have access to the Norway sector for cod, haddock, hake, pollock and coley, although the Norway boats don’t have access to our sector for pelagic species.


Salmon has been increasing in price in recent weeks. Despite a recent levelling strong demand through Christmas will probably see prices rise well into 2022. Additionally, the cool weather means fish require less feed, are less susceptible to disease and farmers can slaughter fewer. Many have already harvested their
“target”. Both Loch Duart and the majority of Scottish fish farmers lost significant amounts of stock due to warmer water temperatures over the recent months. This further reduces volume and increases prices.

GB finished pig prices October 2021

Frozen Lines

All the major processors, including China and Vietnam, are still struggling with production speed versus demand. Ports are still congested and we are paying a lot in demurrage (a charge imposed by a shipping line on uncleared containers). Additionally, there is still power rationing in China which further slows production.


In addition to workforce and supply issues, transportation costs rising is having a continued influence on goods entering the UK.

With prices in Europe marching upwards, low numbers and demand being strong have increased the price points in the UK for imported product, The monthly pricing has eroded with plants now giving weekly prices at best.

Slaughter for the year to the end of October was down 4.4% on the same period in 2020. Demand is outstripping supply for certain products with the lack of trained staff at abattoirs and cutting plants to do the work, there are not enough butchers/slaughter men to process the required cattle to meet the current demand this will be the case on all species.

GB finished pig prices October 2021


This week we have seen auction market throughputs pick up with 134,000 head coming forwards, a week-on-week rise of 28%. Reports indicate that more would have been purchased if they’d been available. This pick up is still a drop in the ocean compared to the lower kill levels recorded in recent months. Prices in France are strong and rising too, exceeding £6.50/kg in the week ending 1 November.

Estimated kill for the week recorded a decline of 15%, to 221,000 head.

In October lamb kill totalled 1,107,000 head, down 11% on the year and 12% on the 5-year average. October is usually the peak month for lamb kill.

Adult sheep kill has also once again recorded a large year-on-year decrease, to stand at 100,400 head. Recorded ewe slaughter was 29% below the 5-year average for the month.

For the year to October, production totals 214,600 tonnes, 11% below year-earlier levels. Lamb prices continue to rise due to the lack of UK numbers and lack of imports from New Zealand & Australia.

Prices for imported lamb is at an all-time high with various products unavailable in any volume. A challenging shipping market is removing the potential for New Zealand to send large volumes into Europe.


Supplies of live pigs continue to exceed available processing capacity, and the backlog on farms remains. The low prices paid for some batches of pigs destined for markets requiring minimal butchery have likely weighed on the overall average of prices recently.

Whole pig prices have been rising and falling over recent weeks, the volatile pattern reflects changes in the number of low-priced pigs intended for export with minimal butchery in the sample each week.

Carcase weights remain high and averaged 91.76kg during the week, more than 4kg higher than a year earlier. Slaughtering all the market-ready pigs remains a challenge, and provisional estimates for slaughter in recent weeks suggest that the number being processed is not improving. In the latest week, the estimated slaughter was just 166,000 head, well below typical levels for the time of year.

GB finished pig prices October 2021

Poultry Shortages

UK chicken market is still experiencing some issues with shortages on certain products due to labour issues. Prices remain firm.

European chicken has been stable for a while with good availability and again prices remain firm.

UK turkey will be tight on supply due to lack of numbers, European product should be able to fill any gaps.

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