Red Meat Market Analysis Shows Steady Prices and Improving Carcase Conformation

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has released its latest monthly analysis of trends in the lamb, beef and pork sectors.

Strong livestock prices at market continue to offer some respite for farmers in a period when the cost of agricultural inputs is rising sharply due to the price of energy and the war in Ukraine.

The average deadweight prime cattle prices in England and Wales have been firm during recent weeks, with the current average for steers stabilising at 437.9p/kg. This is 46p above year-earlier levels and substantially higher than the long-term average. Liveweight prices for new season lambs averaged 330.0p per kilo, which is likewise 66p higher than the 5-year average for the time of year.

Commenting on the figures, Katie Davies, Vice-Chair of the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association Wales, said,

‘We continue to see a buoyant trade in the finished and cull rings for both sheep and cattle. As the trade in old season stock moves towards an end, the new season lambs are currently looking a promising trade. The forthcoming Qurbani festival will hopefully create demand for the sheep sector that will keep prices strong. The good returns that continue to be seen in the finished sheep and cattle rings are continuing to pass through to the store ring for both breeding and finishing animals.”

The comparatively high prices for livestock in both 2021 and 2022 is part of the reason for the improvement in carcase conformation figures, newly released by AHDB, according to HCC’s analysis.

In the May Market Bulletin, it is revealed that the past two years have seen an increase in the percentage of lamb carcases hitting the ‘R’ conformation grade at British abattoirs, from 54.8% to 58.7%, meaning that more animals are reaching the target customer and market specifications.

In terms of cattle, there was also an increase in the percentage of animals hitting the standard specification, while there was also a tendency for carcase weights to be heavier during the past year.

“Consistently strong prices for beef cattle last year may have tempted some farmers to hold on to animals for longer to fatten, which will partly explain the heavier carcase weights” explained HCC Data Analyst Glesni Phillips.

“Overall, the picture as regards carcase classification is a positive one, with more lambs meeting the desired specification and fewer being over-fat, which is good news for reducing waste and improving the efficiency of the sector as a whole.”

Further analysis of prices and carcase classification trends can be read in HCC’s Monthly Market Bulletin for May at