In the last few weeks, we have seen the deadweight price for cattle in Scotland pass the £5.00kg mark, whilst across the rest of the UK it is now nudging that price point.

At the same time, better cattle sold in livestock auctions have been hitting the £5.20-£5.30 bracket in my area with values driven by high retail butchers and Halal.

So, what seems to be driving these historically high prices? A lack of cheap imports is certainly one big factor in the catering sector. All this cheap post Brexit Australian and South American beef seems to be vanishingly absent.

I have said before that the worldwide demand for red meat protein is so strong, we are likely to see sustained high prices for the foreseeable future. Couple this with high export demand and things do look pretty strong, subject of course to seasonal and unexpected fluctuations which can and will happen.

As regards sheep prices, these started the year in fairly steady fashion but, as with beef, have seen a significant rise over the last few weeks with recent deadweight price rises heading towards £7.00kg and liveweight hogget prices in the £140-£160 plus region with recent religious festivals undoubtedly adding to the already strong domestic and export demand. New season lambs have also started well despite a very late spring.

So where do high livestock prices sit in the politics of consumer affordability and food inflation? When I hear such statements as ‘all consumers have a right to affordable food’ from farming leaders, I wonder what that is supposed to mean for hard working farmers.

Should government cap prices and make up the difference with a subsidy? Good luck with that one. In any case, supermarkets are already subsidising some products such as mince to the tune of 30-40%. A few months ago, I pointed to one of the German discounters selling mince here at £3.99 for 500g whilst same product in their German stores was 10 euros!

So, anything new happening out there on the domestic market?

As a result of the Covid lockdowns, BBQ and at-home eating and entertaining is now the UK’s No 1 summer home leisure activity, with three out of four households now owning some type of BBQ grill.

The organisation behind National BBQ Week claims that the BBQ and alfresco eating and entertaining market in 2021 ( latest figures available) was worth just over £2.2bn with Kantar figures showing 139.1m barbecue occasions across the year.

Kantar’s view is that premium barbecue lines could be due growth soon as inflation pushes shoppers to look for cheaper alternatives to eating out.

And first into the market this year is chicken producer Moy Park which, under a range marketed as ‘Summer Edition’ has launched items such as pre glazed Texas BBQ style chicken steaks and honey and chilli chicken chunks. Selling at between £12.57 and £14.67kg this makes them considerably more expensive than standard chicken breast at around £9.00kg.

Their move seems to be driven by a new trend called ‘gastro grilling’ whereby consumers who have invested considerable amounts of money in BBQ equipment now feel that they should trade up in terms of the meats they are cooking.

The average spend by a family of four on BBQ food and drink is now £44.05 with chicken at 19% of meal occasions the favourite BBQ food, followed by burgers 18%, whilst sausages have slipped to 14%, with kebabs rising to 11% and steak steady at 10%, fish has also increased to 9%, whilst lamb and pork share 6%.

So, it would appear there is plenty of scope for good use of levy payers money in making sure those barbies keep burning!