UK meat output appears to be recovering after the FMD crisis, according to DEFRA's latest data on meat production.
Farmgate prices for most lambs and beef cattle are stronger than a year ago. Pig prices are falling, but producers in this country are still paid more than most of their Continental rivals.
However DEFRA's June farm census in England points to the highly unusual scenario of contraction of almost the whole livestock industry.
Normally a downturn in one sector would be offset by cyclical growth in another.
At least some of the recent production increases have been artificial boosts, resulting from earlier stock buildup on farms due to movement restrictions imposed to combat foot and mouth. The same influence has distorted breeding herd and flock numbers.
MLC economists, commenting on the census results, note: "Heifers originally destined for slaughter were retained for breeding instead" but warn "it is unlikely this will bring a complete turnaround in the decline of the beef breeding herd".
In the pig sector, the underlying downtrend in breeding and slaughter stock numbers now seems even steeper than earlier feared. While in the sheep sector production capacity appears stable.
In general, the outlook is not encouraging for processors or for retailers making public commitments to supporting home producers.

{{MARKET EDGE }}

Topics