UK beef production in 2022 is forecast to increase by 2% on the previous year, according to a market report from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
With supplies tight at the start of the year it has meant that cattle numbers slaughtered over the first half of 2022 are down 1% on 2021 levels with 984,000 prime animals processed.
However, based on British Cattle Movement Service data, supplies of prime cattle are expected to increase during the second half of the year, resulting in overall increase in the prime kill of 1.6%.
The cull cow kill has been strong in 2022, and forecast to finish the year 3% ahead of the 2021 figure.
With UK beef and dairy herds in a steady decline, this will negatively impact on supplies into the future.
With more cattle forecast later this year, and retail sales of beef under pressure due to the cost of living crisis and a return to out-of-home eating (normally serviced by imported beef), this could lead to lower prices.
However, global prices are firm, and export demand remains robust, which could soften any downward price pressure, states AHDB.
It is a similar picture in lamb, where tight supplies in EU markets should help to keep prices firm to producers, despite a drop off in UK retail sales.
Strong prices in 2021 contributed to a 3% expansion in the UK sheep breeding flock, with 14.5m ewes recorded on farms in December 2021. The 2022 lamb crop is forecast at 17.9m head.