Red meat production is returning to pre-Covid patterns

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Red meat production is returning to pre-Covid patterns
Red meat production is returning to pre-Covid patterns

Related tags: Supply chain

Red meat production is returning to pre-Covid patterns as the impact of the pandemic is subsiding, the latest Monthly Market Bulletin by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has revealed.

The bulletin analyses production trends for lamb, beef and pork in the UK, with the latest evidence showing that the impact of the COVID pandemic on the industry.  

However, it said that new external pressures – ranging from price inflation to the hot weather – are beginning to be felt on both consumers and farmers.

According to figures from Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, UK prime lamb slaughterings for each of the first five months of 2022 were higher than the previous year. 

Normal slaughter levels

As a result, the total throughput of lambs at UK abattoirs during the first half of the year was up by 8% (or 440,700 head). HCC said this is a return to more normal slaughter levels seen before 2020. The throughput of cull ewes and rams is also notably higher than 2021 levels, but comparable with the long-term average for the corresponding period, it said. 

The total throughput of cattle at UK abattoirs stood at 1.3m head during the first half of 2022. The first half of 2021 did experience record low throughput figures for cattle, so the latest data suggests that supply has since recovered.

HCC’s Data Analyst Glesni Phillips said: “The figures for lamb and beef throughput during the first half of this year suggest that the turbulence of the immediate post-Brexit and Covid periods has subsided, and we’re back to more normal patterns of production as seen before 2020.\

External factors

“However, there are signs that different external factors are beginning to have an impact.”

Phillips said that retail data is beginning to suggest recessionary buying patterns on the part of hard-pressed consumers, with some shifting to cheaper cuts and cheaper proteins. 

“This will be a concern for the industry in terms of carcase balance,”​ he added. 

“Also, high input costs are having an adverse effect on farm balance sheets. The combined impact of the dry weather and high feed prices may limit the numbers of lambs ready for market over the next few weeks, while the high level of slaughterings in the pig sector – 8% higher than the 5-year average – suggest that some producers are reducing stock levels due to high costs.”

Related topics: Meat, poultry & seafood, COVID-19

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