Pressure on GB beef market as prices continue to fall

An image of Richard Findlay on his farm with sheep in the background

NFU Livestock Board chair Richard Findlay shares his concerns for the UK's beef market following a sharp downturn in the price of British and Irish beef.

There is growing concern that we’re seeing sustained falls in the GB beef price. In the last 8 weeks we’ve seen over 20p/kg dwt come off the clean steer price.

If the current trend continues, confidence in UK production, which is already low, will be further eroded as livestock producers look to manage input costs of feed and fertiliser, and will be considering whether they can make the SFI23 offer work for them.

Consumers trading down

So what are the reasons for the downturn in the GB beef price?

Certainly the cost of living crisis driven by food inflation continues to have an impact on demand. We have seen the beef category in UK retail fall by 2.7%, with consumers choosing to trade down to cheaper proteins and lower priced options.

However, it’s not all bad; red meat consumption has held up pretty well despite food inflation hitting 17.3%, but when we see the market share of meat alternatives declining by 12.9% it tells me that consumers still value the quality and nutritious value of red meat in their diet. 

With worldwide demand continuing to outstrip supply I find it frustrating that our hard-working members are not adequately rewarded.

NFU Livestock Board chair Richard Findlay

With worldwide demand continuing to outstrip supply I find it frustrating that our hard-working members are not adequately rewarded for the investment, risk and time they put into producing such a quality product.

Irish beef price declining

We have seen the Irish beef price come down sharply over the past few weeks and we know that this has an impact on the GB price as many retailers and food service companies balance supplies of British and Irish.

I’m concerned that we may soon begin to see the impact of the dreadful UK/Australia FTA (Free Trade Agreement), which significantly increases their beef and lamb access, as Australia starts to ship product under the agreement, putting further pressure onto GB producers and processors.

We welcome the support of those UK Grocery Retailers and out of home markets which source British red meat, and call on them to continue to stand by their commitments.

British beef is produced to the highest possible standards of animal welfare, food safety and sustainability. This ensures that consumers receive the quality which they have come to expect when choosing to buy British beef and lamb.

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