EU Cattle Prices Surge

EU - Cattle prices within the EU surged to record high levels in late March, despite a slow start to the year, as concerns about the tightness of forward cattle supplies and falling herd numbers continue to influence the market.
calendar icon 16 April 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

Figures from the EU Commission showed that prices for O3 cows averaged €304.30 per 100kg deadweight (dw) for the week ending March 25, a 16.5 per cent increase year-on-year. Prices for R3 steers averaged €394.36 per 100kg dw, a 21.2 per cent increase on the same period in 2011. Prices paid for heifers and bulls were also at historically high levels.

The recent strength in cattle prices across the EU is closely linked to falling production levels, with cattle numbers down across the majority of large beef producing nations. Provisional figures from the EU commission indicate French cattle numbers were down 2.6 per cent, to 19.14 million head in 2011, the UK herd was back 2.2 per cent, to 9.68 million head, while German numbers were down 1.4 [er cent, to 12.53 million head.

Cattle slaughter throughout Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic so far in 2012 is well back year-on-year, indicative of the tight supply of slaughter ready cattle. Steer slaughter for the week ended 25 March in Great Britain was back 5.5 per cent year-on-year, while Northern Ireland and Irish Republic slaughter levels contracted 12.4 per cent and 27.2 per cent, respectively. Indicative of the very tight throughput in the UK, the O3 cow price in the UK was the highest of the top five EU beef producing nations, at €335.07 per 100kg dw.

The UK was the fourth largest producer of beef in the EU in 2011, producing 936,000 tonnes cwt, or 12 per cent of total EU production. France was the largest beef producer, at 1.56 million tonnes cwt, or 20 per cent of total production, followed by Germany (1.16 million tonnes cwt) and Italy (1.09 million tonnes cwt).

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