Turnover across all species through the livestock auction mart system in England and Wales has smashed through the £2 billion barrier for the first time, with growing numbers of producers and buyers recognising the importance of the live sales ring to secure both a fair trade for vendors while meeting buyer requirements.
At a time when integrated supply chains are coming under greater scrutiny, particularly in the pig sector where contracts have effectively been ripped up when the trade collapsed, even more pressure has been placed on the beef and lamb trade through direct contracts.
While prices on forward contracts have not risen to reflect increasing production costs and lack of numbers, the live sales system has remained resilient and transparent, working on behalf of farmers to get a fair trade on the stock sold through the ring.
Chris Dodds, Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) executive secretary, said: “The live sales system is working on behalf of not only the producer, but also the retailer and the consumer, by ensuring quality, home-produced red meat has been available despite all the challenges through both Brexit and the global pandemic.”
Overall throughput numbers for all category of cattle rose by 3,000 to a combined 1,042,000 across England and Wales, while sheep numbers saw a small drop to 9,666,000, down 137,000 year-on-year.
Pigs and calves both saw an overall increase of 8,000 and 10,000 respectively, with 101,000 pigs and 230,000 calves sold through the live sales ring in 2021.
Mr Dodds added: “Trade has been buoyant throughout the year for all types, while at the same time we have seen forward contracts and integrated supply chains fail across the agricultural sector.
“Supply and demand are key to everything, and when there has been a global lack of sheep meat worldwide, for example, the markets need to adjust accordingly. The dynamic nature of the live sales system allows us to react as an industry, working on behalf of the farmer to secure the best price for their stock.”