The Coronavirus pandemic has certainly created some unusual trading circumstances for farmers, with auctions implementing drop and go systems, social distancing measures put in place for buyers and timed online auctions being set up to sell pedigree breeding stock.
Initially the widespread uncertainty combined with the closure of schools, colleges, restaurants and fast food outlets caused a decline in demand for meat products and negatively impacted the prices received by farmers for their livestock.

More recently, beef and lamb prices seem to have picked up. In the week ending 16th May, for the first time in several weeks, GB cattle deadweight prices increased significantly across the board. The warm dry weather (whilst not helping grass growth) has seen strong demand for burgers, sausages and other BBQ cuts of meat, whilst sales of mince have continued to increase, with beef mince volumes up 27% year on year. With lockdown restrictions beginning to ease, food and catering businesses are gradually reopening (albeit in different formats than before) which should hopefully bring more demand back into the market and have an influence on prices.

Interestingly, the proportion of households buying meat-free products has fallen during the COVID-19 lockdown to 12.5% of households compared with 13.8% this time last year. Whilst at the same time, the proportion of households consuming primary red meat has risen from 67% to 71.1% – a trend that I’m sure most farmers would like to see continue post lockdown.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email