Cattle Commentary 2021

If we wind the clock back to the end of 2019 we were just about to leave the EU and Coronavirus was making the news and spreading through the world at a rate of knots. Then we had complete lockdown on the 23 March 2020 and who would have thought that or dared to predict that the cattle trade would be where it is today. The deadweight buyers immediately dropped the price trying to take advantage of the situation and have been playing catch up ever since. All were fearing the effect lockdown would have on the price, and admittedly the first week was tricky but after that the trade has never looked back.

To illustrate this demand in prices from York Auction Centre, at the end of 2019 bulls had averaged 172p/kg for the year, at the end of 2020 it was 189p/kg and by the end of 2021 the average was 211p/kg, equivalent to an increase over 22.5% over the 2 years. Clean cattle have done slightly better; at the end of 2019 the average for the year was  197p/kg, by the end of 2020 this had increased to 211p/kg  and by the end of 2021 the average was a mighty 245p/kg, this is equivalent to an increase of just over 24% in the 2 year period.

There are a number of factors that have resulted in the increase in demand for beef:

  • the importation of beef into the UK stopped or was negligible
  • families had to eat at home as they couldn’t go out and have reconnected with cooking.
  • foreign holidays became so difficult that there were millions more people in the country.
  • supermarkets could only stock British Beef
  • when lockdown eased and the hospitality sector opened up the demand partially moved from individuals to restaurants but it was still home grown beef that was being purchased.
  • the suckler cow herd in the country has been on a slow decline for a number of years.

2022 has started off well with a bank holiday mart on 3 January with a very slightly smaller show than normal, all buyers present and in good form wanting cattle. The talk is there is a shortage of finished cattle with all selling hard pre-Christmas. There is usually a lull in the trade during late January/early February, which did not happen last year and isn’t looking like happening this year.



  2020-2021 2021 2020 2019
CLEAN CATTLE 16.20% 245.21 211.03 197.89
YOUNG BULLS 11.53% 211.74 189.85 172.60

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