Livestock producers need to concentrate on hitting specifications to achieve the best prices
Hitting specification should be the focus for livestock producers looking for the best prices this year.
Debbie Butcher, senior analyst at AHDB Beef and Lamb, said it would be the ‘big issue of the year’.
“For some producers, changing systems to meet the new requirements of the market will be easier than for others,” she said.
“However, more than ever those who do not or cannot adapt may find the best prices could well be even harder to achieve.”
Stuart Ashworth, head of economics services at Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), said farmgate prices historically reduced in the first quarter of the year and supplying lighter cattle to lower the amount of beef on the market was one way to mitigate this.
Retail prices are expected to rise in 2017 but Mr Ashworth warned this might not result in higher farmgate pricing.
Mr Ashworth said: “The concern for 2017 is rises in consumer prices may well improve supermarket turnover but actual demand for product may not grow.”
Ms Butcher said increasing food prices would probably result in consumers continuing to prioritise chicken and less expensive proteins.
“Beef is already at the top end. Higher priced proteins will likely lose out and beef and lamb look vulnerable,” she added.
Prys Morgan, Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) head of operations, said the 2017 market outlook was more unpredictable due to currency fluctuations.
“The fall in sterling after the EU referendum had a pronounced and immediate impact on farmgate prices, particularly for PGI Welsh Lamb where about 35 per cent of produce is exported,” he said.
It could also affect the balance between imported and home-grown produce as well as increasing fuel and other input costs.
“But the retail picture remains complex, with strong growth in some more expensive ranges of meat products.”