Nearly half a billion pounds worth of livestock was sold through Scotland’s auction marts in 2019.
Statistics compiled by the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) revealed almost 2.7 million head of livestock were sold by auctioneering firms during the year, fetching £482.5 million.
Total sale numbers were up by just over 112,000 on the previous year.
But while physical totals rose compared to 2018, the average prices achieved dropped by 8.1 per cent, reflecting the fall in general commodity prices during the year as well as the uncertainty for marketing surrounding Brexit.
IAAS believes the livestock auction system has been challenged, especially in the prime sheep sector, by those supermarket suppliers who would rather avoid competition and seek price control through direct sourcing.
Store stock numbers sold through rings was down by 0.82 per cent at just under 1.2 million.
Those animals achieved values totalling £314.1m, a fall of about 5.9 per cent on the previous 12 months.
Levels of stock sold for slaughter by marts rose by 8.7 per cent to 1.5m.
Values were almost unchanged on the year at £168.4m.
IAAS president Scott Donaldson said: “The worth of animals sold is a powerful reminder of the economic importance of our marts.
“The increase in the number of animals going through our rings highlights the value farmers place on the system.
“It has never been more important for the entire supply chain to embrace the auction system to keep trade vibrant and successful, highlighting the superb standards of Scotch-assured red meat.”
Neil Wilson, IAAS executive director, added: “Negotiating power in the supply chain must not be lost and the figures for 2019 remind us of this.
“That is why we caution against fixed contracts which can be inflexible, negatively impacting on market price and competitiveness.
“Short-term solutions may not provide long term answers for agricultural enterprises.
“The live ring remains the most transparent and competitive way to sell all livestock.”