BEEF prices may rise in the short term before stabilising later this year, according to industry experts.

The latest data suggests Welsh beef production is likely to see medium term price stability because supply is expected to tighten, Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) experts anticipate.

Statistics from British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) shows that the GB breeding herd stood at 2.7 million head in January 2024 - almost two per cent lower than January 2023 and a notable six per cent smaller when compared to January 2021.

However, in the short term, numbers may temporarily increase- and possibly impact on farmgate prices- before the expected tightening brings greater stability later in 2024.

This data, and the associated projections, are part of a new HCC report as part of the Between the Lines series, Beef Supply: Update and Outlook that considers the factors that impact on the beef sector’s supply, demand and price, now and in the medium term.

“The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlook forecasts a tight supply of beef on the global market in 2024, with Ireland and the EU experiencing reduced production volumes,” said Glesni Phillips, HCC’s Market Intelligence, Analysis and Business Insight Executive and author of the report.

“As a result, beef continues to be in demand across the globe, which may provide support to the domestic market as opportunities for increased exports arise. The BCMS data suggest supply for the remainder of this year will be plentiful as the number of cattle aged 12-30 months were up two per cent compared to 2023.

“Cattle under 12 months of age were down three per cent which suggest supply will be tight further down the line into 2025. In addition to this, a smaller breeding herd will lead to fewer calf registrations in 2024 and therefore fewer slaughter-ready animals becoming available into 2026 and beyond.”

On prices, the report says deadweight prices for prime cattle categories in England and Wales were strong during 2023. Steer average deadweight prices reached a high of £4.90 during mid-May last year, but current averages have surpassed this and reached £4.95.