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Beef industry responds to carcase weight changes

Farmers have responded by sending steers to market at a younger age



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Beef industry responds to carcase weight changes #beefgb

Farmers have been marketing steers at a younger age in response to market signals on carcase weights, according to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).


In August, Scottish abattoirs reported steer carcases 14kg lower than last year and across the UK steer weights have fallen by 8kg.


Stuart Ashworth, head of economics at QMS, said: "This is a reflection of the increasing proportion of the animals slaughtered being drawn from spring-born calves born 18 months ago."


Mr Ashworth also suggested this would limit the fall usually seen between August and December.

 

Younger


Chris Dodds, executive secretary at the Livestock Auctioneers Association, said: "Undoubtedly, suppliers are very conscious of the lower weights.


"I think what will happen to keep carcase weights lower, is that they will be coming through younger."


While some of the bigger abattoirs have reduced their weight limits, other abattoirs have not and Mr Dodds said the advantage of live rings was a wider range of buyers.


"If we have buyers supplying big abattoirs thinking they cannot pay the price, we might then have specialist abattoirs who might feel they can pay it," he added.


Demand remained high for beef due to ’aggressive’ retail pricing as consumers have bought more but spent less.

 

Demand


Mr Ashworth said: "Estimates of sales in the 12 weeks to mid-August show the volume of beef sold in retail outlets increased by 2 per cent.


"There may also have been some switching to cheaper cuts which adds to the abattoirs’ challenge of achieving carcase balance in what they sell."


The weaker pound has also affected the beef trade as July trade figures showed a ’modest growth’ in exports but a substantial decrease in imports.


"This change resulted in a reduced volume of beef on the domestic market and helped, along with multiple retailers’ commitment to British product, to support average farmgate prices," he said.


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