UK Beef and Sheepmeat Production to Fall in 2008

UK - The latest Cattle Market Outlook report produced by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (formerly MLC) reports that beef production in the UK will contract by two per cent to 861,000 tonnes in 2008.
calendar icon 11 August 2008
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According to a Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) bulletin, beef exports are expected to grow, but imports should fall so the overall net effect will be a contraction in beef supplies in the UK to 1,067,000 tonnes this year. The UK will be 80 per cent self sufficient for beef.

Beef production in 2008 will decrease because prime cattle slaughterings are forecast to fall by five per cent to 2.05 million head this year. Prime slaughterings will drop due to decreasing cow numbers in the UK as a consequence of lower calf births in the last two years due to the continuing decline in UK cow number. Cow and bull slaughterings are expected to rise by 14 per cent to 510,000 head, which will partially compensate for the reduction in prime beef output.

Increased cow beef production and the weakening of sterling against the euro in 2008 should lead to beef exports growing by 27 per cent to 85,000 tonnes. The ban on beef imports from Brazil will result in total imports decreasing to 290,000 tonnes. The reduction in beef production and imports in the UK coupled with an increase in exports will reduce the supply of beef on the UK market. Therefore it is expected that total consumption will fall by four per cent. Higher retail prices and the gloomy economic climate could also have negative impact on beef consumption.

Forecasts for 2009 indicate that beef production will drop one per cent to 850,000 tonnes as the prime kill falls two per cent to 2 million. Cow and bull slaughterings will grow by eight per cent to 550,000 head, but the rise will not prevent total output falling.

Imports and exports are forecast to hold at 2008 levels next year. Beef consumption could fall one per cent to 1.055 million tonnes due to the decrease in UK beef production.

Forecasts for the UK sheep sector indicate that the gradual decline in sheepmeat production and consumption will continue. In 2008 sheepmeat production is forecast to decrease marginally to 324,000 tonnes. A two per cent drop in lamb slaughterings is behind the fall in production. Ewe and ram slaughterings will remain unchanged at approximately 2.2 million head. Exports are projected to grow by 17 per cent to 82,000 tonnes following the disruptions to trade in the second half of 2007 caused by the FMD outbreak and Bluetongue cases in GB. Imports will grow by three per cent to 132,000 tonnes to compensate for the fall in domestic production and increased exports. Total UK consumption will fall by two per cent to 374,000 tonnes this year.

The outlook for 2009 is for a three per cent decrease in UK production to 315,000 tonnes due to the reduction in the overall UK flock. Lamb slaughterings are forecast to decrease by five per cent to 13.2 million head and ewe slaughterings could fall three per cent to 2.15 million head. Imports will remain at 132,000 tonnes, but the decrease in production will reduce exports by three per cent to 80,000 tonnes. UK consumption is predicted to fall two per cent to 367,000 tonnes.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

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