December 01, 2003
UK Beef Prices Broke 200p/kg Deadweight Barrier Since BSE Exports Ban
Beef prices in the United Kingdom have broken the 200p/kg deadweight barrier for the first time since exports were banned during BSE.
Scottish abattoirs are already paying over 200p/kg deadweight for some U4L steers, and R4L animals are close behind at 198.6p, according to latest Meat and Livestock Commission figures.
In England and Wales the average for R4Ls remains 180.8p/kg but it is believed that some abattoirs have paid over 200p/kg for heavier animals.
Values usually strengthen before the festive period, but the industry is hoping this latest surge is more than just a seasonal blip.
Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association said: "Prices of more than 200p have not been achieved since March 1996 when exports were shut down.
"The developing position in the UK is that demand for beef is soaring. We need to be looking towards achieving 210p/kg now."
Duncan Sinclair, senior beef economist at the Meat and Livestock Commission, said beef consumption this year had topped 1m tons in the UK.
"This has not been achieved since 1989. We expect trade to remain firm through the Christmas period."
But the trend could be reversed if the rises force buyers to seek cheaper imports, possibly from Ireland, he added.
The end of the over 30-month scheme, which it now seems may not be until Autumn 2004, could see Britain achieve 90% self-sufficiency for fresh beef.
However speculation continues as to how the market will be affected by the arrival of an extra 185,000t of older beef for manufacturing.