The latest market anyalsis by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is showing that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the meat industry is subsiding.

However new external pressures – ranging from price inflation to the hot weather – are beginning to be felt on both consumers and farmers.

According to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), UK prime lamb slaughterings for each of the first five months of 2022 were higher than the previous year’s mark.

As a result, the total throughput of lambs at UK abattoirs during the first half of the year was up by 8% (or 440,700 head).

This is a return to more normal slaughter levels seen before Covid-19.

The throughput of cull ewes and rams is also notably higher than 2021 levels, but comparable with the long-term average for the corresponding period.

The total throughput of cattle at UK abattoirs stood at 1.3 million head during the first half of 2022.

The first half of 2021 did experience record low throughput figures for cattle, so the latest data suggests that supply has since recovered.

HCC’s data analyst Glesni Phillips said,

“The figures for lamb and beef throughput during the first half of this year suggest that the turbulence of the immediate post-Brexit and Covid periods has subsided, and we’re back to more normal patterns of production as seen before 2020.

“However, there are signs that different external factors are beginning to have an impact.

“Retail data is beginning to suggest recessionary buying patterns on the part of hard-pressed consumers, with some shifting to cheaper cuts and cheaper proteins. This will be a concern for the industry in terms of carcase balance.

“Also, high input costs are having an adverse effect on farm balance sheets.

"The combined impact of the dry weather and high feed prices may limit the numbers of lambs ready for market over the next few weeks, while the high level of slaughterings in the pig sector – 8% higher than the five-year average – suggest that some producers are reducing stock levels due to high costs.”