Sterling, not Christmas, has biggest effect on meat prices

While festive feasting might result in a boost to sales of roasting joints of beef and lamb, the overall quantity of red meat sold over the Christmas period is little different from the rest of the year.

Few are exchanging their turkey for beef or lamb roasts. Picture: Contributed

Relating shop sales over the period back to cattle and sheep marketing in the run-up to Christmas, Quality Meat Scotland’s chief economist Stuart Ashworth said that, while there was an increase in the sale of some cuts, the holiday period did not lead to any real increase in the overall amount of meat being eaten.

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Ashworth said: “In recent years there has been growth in sales of lamb leg roasts at Christmas and interest in beef roasting joints also increases.

“However, there is a trade-off with some of the lower-value cuts – and in determining a price for the whole carcase, processors have to take a view on how the change in the balance of cuts sold affects the revenue for the carcase as a whole.”

He said that the change in the sterling-euro exchange rate had probably played a bigger role in market prices than any festive effect.

“Since October, sterling has strengthened 3.5 per cent reducing the competitiveness of UK meat in the European community market and acting as a drag on farmgate prices,” he said.