FUNDED MRes - A study of price transmission in UK lamb and beef markets

Harper Adams University
April 15, 2024
Offerd Salary:£3.76bn
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FUNDED MRes - A study of price transmission in UK lamb and beef markets Food, Land & Agribusiness Management Location: Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB

Salary: As per advert Post Type: Full Time Closing Date: 23.59 hours BST on Monday 15 April 2024 Interview Date: To be confirmed Reference: MRES-KB2-WCB-R

The Worshipful Company of Butchers will fund one bursary to support the cost of tuition fees for an MRes Negotiated Studies studentship.

The Worshipful Company of Butchers is one of the oldest of the 110 City of London Livery Companies, and they can trace their roots back to 975 AD. The Livery Company offers a unique centre-point to the British meat industry and is at the heart of one of the country's biggest and most important trades.

Background & underlying rationale

Beef and lamb stand as fundamental components among food commodities consumed in the United Kingdom; beef and veal production value reached £3.76bn in 2022i with beef manufacturing yielded an estimated revenue of approximately £9.96bn in 2021ii, with the sheep meat industry's revenue seeing a compound annual growth rate of 1.5% in the past five years, reaching an estimated £1.6 billion in 2023iii. The UK is both a significant importer and exporter of sheep meativ, whereas the EU dominates UK exports of beef/veal, constituting 85%, and sheep meat accounting for 93% of shipmentsv.

The lamb retail sector has experienced significant advantages from a shift in consumer spending habits and heightened market visibility during specific occasions, including family gatherings. However, a segment of consumers base has turned towards more cost-effective protein cutsvi. In addition, British sheep and goat farmers face tough competition from lamb imports (New Zealand, Australia) and substitute meats amid the cost-of-living crisis, prompting consumers to opt for cheaper proteins like chicken or beefiii. Moreover, lamb exhibits minimal tiering, with smaller value and premium tiers compared to beef and pork, positioning it generally as a more premium red meatvii. Overall, red meat consumption, primarily beef, has decreased in the UK since 2008v. This decline can be attributed to various factors including challenges posed by the cost of livingviii ix, food price inflation and broader shifts in lifestyle patternsx whereby consumers turn to plant-based optionsxi due to health and environmental concerns related to beef productionxii xiii.

The predominant preference of the average UK consumer leans towards high-value cuts of red meat, encompassing selections like beef steaks, roasting joints, and lamb chops, alongside more economical choices such as lamb and beef mincexiv xv. Along these lines, in the last year, volume increased significantly for value-tier products, such as a 59.1% rise in beef, 30.0% in pork, and 66.1% in lamb. This shift is linked to consumers opting for lower- tier choices over branded and premium items to manage their food expensesxv. Increased red meat prices due to inflation have resulted to a decline in branded products, losing £43 million. Although some consumers have transitioned to value ranges, most losses in branded products have benefited standard own-label items, with a gain of £27 millionxvi.

The sheep farming industry in the UK is highly fragmented, with no single company contributing at least 1% to industry revenue. The reliance on grazing makes it challenging for farms to achieve economies of scale compared to countries where livestock are primarily grain-fediii. In 2021, the UK had 121 sheep abattoirs, a decline from 135 in 2019. Farmers with fewer abattoirs experience elevated slaughter costs, leading to reduced profitability and revenueiii. Similarly, the UK beef sector is characterised by high degree of regulation, the production base remains notably fragmented and characterized by entrenched conservative practices whereas approximately 80% of meat is directly channelled to consumers through food retailers. Research supports that high market concentration facilitates faster transmission of increases in producer prices compared to decreases thus leading to price asymmetry across the beef supply chain. As such, retailers may exert considerable influence over beef/lamb and related beef/lamb products; potentially affecting producers' ability to negotiate fair prices or respond to market shifts. Thus, this concentration of power within the processing sector might restrict the profitability and adaptability of beef and lamb producers. In this context, the present work aims to explore vertical price transmission in the UK lamb and beef supply chains. In particular:

  • This work will examine the price adjustments along the lamb and beef supply chains in the long-run, between producer prices and different lamb and beef cuts on a retail level.
  • The direction of price causality in the lamb and beef supply chain will be explored
  • The short-run dynamics between producer prices and different lamb and beef cut prices on a retail level will be examined.
  • This will be pursued using secondary data from AHDB database and by employing cointegration techniques, error correction models and causality tests to further understand the price transmission mechanism in the UK lamb and beef supply chains. The findings generated from this work could be used to inform decision making by all actors in the UK lamb and beef supply chain, and others such as AHDB and DEFRA that monitor and develop policies for balancing producer and consumer welfare.

    MRes Scholarship Outcomes

    It is envisaged that the proposed MRes Scholarship will produce a researcher/professional capable of critically and pragmatically analysing price transmission and mechanisms in any UK or international commodity market. The scholar will receive training in agricultural economics and applied econometrics, gaining the ability to competently analyse diverse secondary data and report on industry relevant findings.

    The outcomes of the student's research will include establishing the basic data requirements to enable the analysis of prices within UK lamb and beef supply chains. The methodological approach and findings will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    i Statista (2023). https: // www. veal-production-value-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/ (Accessed: 16 December 2023)

    ii Statista (2023). https: // www. market/#editorsPicks (Accessed: 15 December 2023)

    iii IBIS (2023). A01.450 Sheep Farming in the UK. https: // www. (Accessed: 19/01/2024)

    iv AHDB Horizon (2021): Opportunities for the sheep sector. https: // (Accessed: 18/01/2024)

    v AHDB (2023): Beef and lamb at a glance. https: // lamb-at-a-glance (Accessed: 19/01/2024)

    vi AHDB (2023): Lamb market outlook. https: // outlook#:~:text=Sheep%20meat%20production&text=Assuming%20average%20conditions%20and%20grass%20growth%20this%20season%2C%20we%20would,%2C%20up%202%25%20from%202022 (Accessed: 18/01/2024)

    vii AHDB (2023): Value-tier red meat and dairy sales soar as other tiers suffer. https: // dairy-sales-soar-as-other-tiers-suffer (Accessed: 18/01/2024)

    viii AHDB (2022): https: // living-increases-are-driving-meat-reduction (Accessed: 4 December 2023)

    ix Pastorino, S., Cornelsen, L., Cuevas Garcia-Dorado, S., Dangour, A. D., Milner, J., Milojevic, A., Scheelbeek, P., Wilkinson, P. and Green, R. (2023). The future of meat and dairy consumption in the UK: exploring different policy scenarios to meet net zero targets and improve population health. Global Sustainability. Cambridge University Press, 6, p.e10 DOI: https: //

    x AHDB (2023a): https: // red-meat-and-dairy-sales-soar-as-other-tiers-suffer (Accessed: 20 December 2023)

    xi Stewart, C., Piernas, C., Cook, B., and Jebb, S. A. (2021). Trends in UK meat consumption: analysis of data from years 1-11 (2008-09 to 2018-19) of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey rolling programme. The Lancet. Planetary health, 5(10), e699–e708. DOI: https: //

    xii Mintel (2022). https: // market-report (Accessed: 6 December 2023)

    xiii Willett, W., Rockström, J., Loken, B., Springmann, M., Lang, T., Vermeulen, S., Garnett, T., Tilman, D., DeClerck, F., Wood, A., Jonell, M., Clark, M., Gordon, L.J., Fanzo, J., Hawkes, C., Zurayk, R., Rivera, J.A., Vries, W.D., Sibanda, L.M., Afshin, A., Chaudhary, A., Herrero, M., Agustina, R., Branca, F., Lartey, A., Fan, S., Crona, B., Fox, E., Bignet, V., Troell, M., Lindahl, T., Singh, S., Cornell, S.E., Reddy, K.S., Narain, S., Nishtar, S. and Murray, C.J.L. (2019). Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, The Lancet, 393(10170), pp.447-492, ISSN 0140-6736, DOI: https: // (18)31788-4.

    xiv NFU (2022): GROWING OUR AGRI-FOOD EXPORTS TO 2030 AND BEYOND - Beef and Lamb. https: // www. lamb.pdf (Accessed: 18/01/2024)

    xv AHDB (2023d): Value-tier red meat and dairy sales soar as other tiers suffer. https: // dairy-sales-soar-as-other-tiers-suffer (Accessed: 18/01/2024)

    xvi AHDB (2022a): Inflation hits value meat tiers, impacting struggling shoppers. https: // tiers-impacting-struggling-shoppers (Accessed: 18/01/2024)

    Application Procedure:

    Applications should be made by sending a full Curriculum Vitae and supporting documents to Dimitrios Paparas - [email protected]

    Candidates should ensure that they provide full details of the name, postal address, email address and telephone number of two referees.

    Application deadline is 11.59pm UK time on Monday, 15 April 2024

    Further information can be found on the HAU website at www. and on the research training provided and MRes requirements at:

    https: // www.

    For informal enquiries on the project, applicants may contact the Director of Studies, Dimitrios Paparas - [email protected]

    Only Home residents (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man & Channel Isles residents) may apply for the WCB Studentship, which covers operational funds and all tuition fees.

    All applicants must have:

  • One of the following:
  • o UK honours degree (or equivalent) in Agricultural Economics, Agribusiness, Agriculture, or related fields, with a minimum 2.1 achievement in degree qualification (or equivalent)

    o Honours degree plus previous and appropriate research experience

    o Postgraduate diploma or equivalent (at merit or distinction)


  • Evidence of interest and experience in agricultural economics and the price transmission in UK lamb and beef markets or evidence of a strong desire to learn.
  • The ability to work as part of a research team and self-motivation to take responsibility for their own work, and evidence to illustrate this.
  • A minimum level of competency in English. International applicants must be classed with an overall International English Language Test System (IELTS) grade of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component. International applicants, or those whose first language is not English, may provide evidence of this by uploading their certificate. Alternatively, evidence of successful achievement of a degree taught in English may be sufficient. Please see the following link with regard to English Language requirements: https: // www. life/international/english-language.cfm
  • Desirable attributes include experience of applied econometrics and data analysis skills, and evidence of written and verbal communication of scientific reports, and review or awareness of scientific literature in English.

    Interview date - mid-late June

    Course start date: Tuesday 17th September 2024

    End date: August 2025


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