June 14, 2021


UK beef production in May higher than same period in 2020



The United Kingdom's beef production was 1.2% higher in May compared to the same month in 2020, according to the latest data from Defra, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said.


A total of 73,800 tonnes of beef and veal was produced in May, 900 tonnes more than the same month a year ago. This increase was driven by a lift in both average carcass weights and adult cattle slaughter.


In May, adult cattle slaughter increased 10% on year earlier levels, to a total 50,400 head. Most of this increase can be attributed to an increase in cow throughput, up 4,400 head year-on-year to 49,000 head. Adult bull throughput also lifted, up 200 head to 1,400 head. Notable increases were also seen in cull cow carcass weights, up 8.3kg (3%) year-on-year to an average 311.5kg.


Conversely, prime cattle slaughter for the month fell 2% (3,300 head) on the year, totaling 165,400 head. This decline was mainly driven by a fall in heifer slaughter (-5%), with steer throughput also dropping back (-3%). Young bull slaughter had strong growth (+9%), although this was not enough to outweigh losses in other prime categories.


Prime throughput in England and Wales saw the largest decline in slaughter levels, dropping back 7% (8,000 head), while Scotland also fell by 5% (2,000 head). Throughput in Northern Ireland increased, up 28% (7,000 head) compared to the same month in 2020.


Prime carcase weights increased marginally year-on-year, by 0.3% (0.9kg) to average 346.7kg.


While production has increased in May, total production for the year-to-date is still 2% lower compared to the same period last year, totaling 374,900 tonnes. This is more in line with AHDB’s expectations, although so far slightly less of a decline than forecast.