THE vital role of the live auction system in setting trends and prices has been recognized in the annual throughput figures released by the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA).
Figures show well over 11 million animals sold through the direct sales network in England and Wales in 2020, with turnover exceeding £ 1.8 billion. They represent an increase in almost all sectors compared to 2019 figures, despite the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19, and a drop in production figures in some categories.
Up from 10.7 million across all species in 2019, the latest figures include just under 10 million sheep and over one million cattle sold through the live system, as farmers turn to the livestock market for get the best prices for their livestock.
Total cattle sales were well above the million barrier, an increase of 30,000 from 2019, as overall sheep sales increased by 370,000 year-on-year.
Significantly, despite Defra figures showing a 3.7% drop in overall sheep and lamb production and a 15% drop in the number of sheep and ram slaughterings, the number of sheep sold in live markets grew nearly 5% to over 6.8 million. .
The number of calves increased by 10,000, to 220,000, demonstrating how markets have adapted and align with the GB Dairy Calf strategy, continuing to represent the largest viable market for all calves.
Perhaps it is the significant increase in revenue that truly reflects the value of the live system, with an increase of over £ 260million, bringing total revenue to £ 1.8bn. pound sterling.
These hugely impressive numbers should nonetheless be offset by the dramatic increase in personnel and operating costs in the market, management and control of bio-secure retail environments, including the additional strict Covid-19 protocols in place which means that the markets remained open for business. .
“The increase in throughput has been phenomenal, and this is in large part due to the support, understanding and patience of our suppliers and buyers, and in return the direct selling network offers high market prices.” says LAA Executive Secretary Chris Dodds.
Living markets have attracted more small and medium-sized retailers and butchers during the challenges of the pandemic, ensuring the right stock is in place for them. In many ways, this has defined the footprint for the future, with markets seeing many buyers and sellers returning to the direct selling ring.
“The farm fraternity can see that they can get a lot more for their inventory through the direct selling ring, with competition and fair prices reflecting demand versus availability,” added Bob Mosley, the president recently. named from LAA, “The past 12 months have really shown the value of the auction system.
“Many marketplaces are introducing real-time online auction platforms during their live sales, which allows those who cannot be physically on site during the day to participate,” says Dodds.