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Welsh Livestock Prices Influenced by Consumers’ Search for Convenience

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As Welsh livestock farmers prepare to gather for the Royal Welsh Winter Fair in Builth Wells, the latest market analysis by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) shows lamb prices boosted by solid UK and international demand, while beef prices are somewhat improved but still significantly down on recent years.

The average deadweight steer price in Wales and England now stands at 319.5p per kg. 2019’s low beef prices are an international phenomenon, caused by a range of supply and demand factors including low consumer confidence in the UK.

The situation for lamb, however, is more buoyant, with the latest liveweight SQQ Welsh average standing at 186p per kg, which is higher than usual for November and 18p above last year.

Increased lamb prices indicate a tightening of supply, but also reflect growth in the value of sales in the UK market, which is the destination for around 60% of Welsh production.

Kantar Worldpanel retail data for the year to date (up until October 2019) shows an increase in total spend on lamb by UK consumers of 2.0% to £435.8 million, and frequency of purchase has increased by 1.9% to 5 times (per buyer) during the same period. As consumers look for convenient meal options, lamb purchases are more frequent but shoppers bought less with each trip.

HCC Data Analyst Glesni Phillips said,

“The latest retail figures show a reasonably optimistic picture for UK lamb consumption. The total volume bought has remained stable despite slightly higher retail prices, so consumers are seeing lamb as an option in the search for convenience.

“There are some interesting patterns within the different lamb cuts, as revealed by Kantar Worldpanel’s data. Sales of chops and shoulder roasting joints are down, but there has been an increase in the popularity of lamb mince and of stewing and other cuts.

“However, HCC will continue to promote all cuts of lamb in its marketing in partnership with retailers, as a balance in the sales of premium and value products is essential for maintaining returns for Welsh farmers and processors in the long term.

“We’re seeing with the beef prices this year that an over-dependence on sales of minced product can lead to an imbalance in the market when consumers tighten their belts. Although wider issues such as the fall in value of hides and other 5th-quarter products, as well as trading uncertainty due to Brexit and currency fluctuations, are also a problem in the beef sector.”