Welsh beef supply is expected to tighten, leading to price stability according to Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC).

The experts at HCC anticipate medium-term price stability based on the latest Welsh beef production data.

British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) stats indicate that in January 2024, the GB breeding herd consisted of about 2.7 million head.

This is nearly two per cent less than January 2023 and a noteworthy six per cent decrease compared to January 2021.

A temporary boost in numbers, potentially impacting farmgate prices, is expected before the anticipated tightening brings more stability later in 2024.

It is estimated that cattle aged 12-30 months will increase in number by 2 per cent compared to 2023, leading to an ample supply for the remainder of the year.

However, a smaller breeding herd will result in fewer calf registrations in 2024, causing a tightened supply into 2025 and limited availability of slaughter-ready animals in 2026 and beyond.

HCC’s market intelligence, analysis and business insight executive, Glesni Phillips, said: "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."

She further pointed out that due to lower production volume, beef continues to be in high-demand worldwide, generating support for the domestic market as export opportunities increase.

The report also examines the beef sector's supply, demand and price influences, both current and future.

Average deadweight prices for prime cattle categories in England and Wales remained robust during 2023 and stayed above the previous year's levels.

Steer average deadweight prices peaked at £4.90 in mid-May last year but surpassed this record by reaching £4.95 in March 2024.

That's 3 per cent higher than year-earlier levels, and a further 28 per cent above the longer-term five-year average.

On deadweight for cull cows, Ms Phillips remarked: "At the time of writing, current averages were trending around £3.46, an increase of over 30p since the start of 2024 but below the corresponding period last year by some 35p."

Defra data indicates that the UK produced 900,600 tonnes of beef and veal in 2023, a decrease of two per cent compared to 2022 and the lowest annual volume produced since 2018.

On the consumption aspect, Glesni shared: "Consumer experts Kantar reveal that over 80 per cent of British households bought beef at some point during the year."

Predictably, as cost-of-living pressures continue to impact consumer shopping and eating habits, mince sales remain strong in the retail sector.

In 2023, mince accounted for 55 per cent of the total volume of beef sold at GB retail, a significant rise from 50 per cent in 2021.