Beef Quarterly Q1 2021: New Drivers in Cattle Innovation

Increasing awareness of the need to improve environmental and social outcomes, together with a growing appetite from investors in animal protein, are creating new opportunities and growth in cattle innovation. “We believe that research and innovation in the beef industry will continue to evolve but we are currently enabled by two main catalysts that will stimulate this further. Firstly, new investors in the space and secondly, the sustainability drive that not only seeks production improvements but also creates wider community interest in driving improvements,” according to Angus Gidley-Baird, Senior Analyst – Animal Protein.

Report summary

Regional updates include:

•Cattle shortages and record prices continue in Australia

•Poor seasons delay supply and cause cattle process to remain high in Brazil

•Retail beef prices remain high in China

•The decline in beef production continues for Europe

•A complicated market with many contradictions exists in the US

Global beef market news:


Foodservice operations remain restricted in most parts of the world, and this is unlikely to change in 1H 2021. This means beef consumption depends on how successfully the industry can market beef for at-home consumption, with China and the US leading this trend. Foodservice is expected to start recovering in 2H 2021, and the re-opening of these channels could support increased consumption, depending on price.


The EU and UK reached a trade agreement at the end of 2020, allowing free trade between the two parties from 2021. In Q1 2021, customs checks and new administrative procedures have contributed to friction in trade flows, which will likely persist in the coming months.

Issues are currently more pronounced concerning trade flows from the UK to the EU as the UK will only introduce its customs checks and regulations in 2H 2021. Some uncertainty remains as to how exactly the new UK regulations will impact the trade of beef products from the EU.

Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) could expand

The UK has requested that it be allowed to join the CPTPP. Given US president Biden’s longstanding support for trade liberalisation, opportunities may also exist for the US to enter the trade agreement.

Rabobank Seven-Nation Cattle Prices Index

Strong demand and limited cattle supplies saw cattle prices rise across most major cattle-producing countries. Australian and Brazilian prices (in USD) in particular are currently trading 36% and 23% higher, respectively, than a year ago.