UK beef sales rocket during lockdown

UK beef sales increased substantially throughout the initial Covid-19 lockdown, according to Bord Bia’s senior manager for meat and livestock, Joe Burke.

He commented:

“This trend was very evident throughout the period of the initial restrictions. But of even more significance is the fact that it was maintained beyond the relaxation of the first pandemic control measures.

The latest Kantar figures for the three months ending November 30, 2020, confirm that retail volumes of beef rose by 24.7% while prices increased by 23.6% during the same period.

“These figures are relative to those recorded for the comparable period in 2019,” Burke added.

The Bord Bia representative went on to confirm that a growing demand for steaks and roasts was the factor most responsible, more so than significant market trends.

“Many people found themselves at home and, obviously, decided that they wanted to eat well. The data clearly shows a growing demand for whole muscle cuts of beef. In contrast, sales of ready meals declined during the same period,” he said.

“And I expect these trends to be further enhanced as the UK enters a further period of intense lockdown.”

Post-Brexit paperwork

Commenting on the impact of the new post-Brexit trading arrangements, Burke explained that Irish beef exporters are having to deal with some additional paperwork and bureaucracy.

He said:

“But things could have been a lot worse. Thankfully, there are no tariffs or quotas to be dealt with as Irish exporters continue their trading relationship with UK customers.

“A number of businesses have employed extra staff to sort out the additional logistics that are now entailed.

For their part, customers in the UK are being asked to give a bit of longer notice, where orders are concerned. This will help ensure that actual beef deliveries from Ireland will arrive where they are required and on time.

Commenting on the recorded trends in Irish farmgate returns throughout 2020, Burke confirmed that E3 steer prices had risen by 1% during this period.

“We started the year at €3.60 with prices averaging €3.63 by the end of December,” he commented.

“UK producer prices rose by an average of 3.0% during 2020. However, the comparable figure for the EU during this period was -2.0%.

“Irish E3 steer prices are now averaging €3.77, excluding VAT. The comparable price in the K is €4.09. However, it should be noted that Irish cattle prices are increasing at a faster rate now than was the case during January 2020,” Burke concluded.