Experts predict sheep and beef production to rise in 2016

Both sheepmeat and beef production are anticipated to rise year-on-year during 2016, according to the latest edition of Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) Market Bulletin.

Sheep meat production in 2016 is forecast to rise by four per cent with the sharpest rise expected to happen towards the end of the year, attributed to higher mutton production. British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) data is suggesting calf registrations during 2015 were three per cent higher than the previous year.

Prospects for 2016’s lamb crop look reasonable; conditions over the past two years, and during tupping, were favourable but much will depend on weather conditions during lambing season and rearing rates. Consequently the lamb crop in 2016 is forecast to increase one per cent on the previous year to 17.3 million head. 

Cattle slaughterings in the UK during 2016 are forecast to increase two per cent on the previous year to 1.96 million head. Heavier prime cattle carcase weights were observed through 2015 and the expectation is that this will continue into 2016 due to low cereal prices and high feed availability. Beef and veal production in the UK is forecast to rise by two per cent on the previous year to 902,000 tonnes.

For 2016, sheepmeat exports are predicted to increase in line with production as conditions are set to improve, with Sterling expected to remain weaker against the Euro compared to the less favourable exchange rates of latter 2015. 

The New Zealand sheepmeat outlook for 2015/16 suggests a fall in production but there could still be increased shipments to the EU to offset losses sustained in the Chinese market.

It is uncertain at this stage how positive developments in lamb retail sales of recent months could help prices combat the predicted plentiful supplies throughout the year. 

Import volumes this year are forecast to be up on 2015, with increased Irish beef production enjoying robust demand throughout 2016, particularly in the retail, foodservice and manufacturing sectors, as the still comparative strength of Sterling against Euro makes Irish beef competitively priced. 

Consequently, beef imports to the UK during 2016 are forecast to increase two per cent to 435,000 tonnes. UK beef exports are expected to increase two per cent to 136,000 tonnes. 

Price developments will largely depend on demand for beef and producers will also have to bear in mind changes to specification by many of the major processors and retailers on weight, age, conformation and movement. This has the potential to reduce demand for beef animals outwith specification and may impact the beef sector for the coming year.