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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

12 August 2013

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 9 August 2013EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 9 August 2013

Cattle prices finely balanced again

With fine weather resulting in slower retail demand, trade in week ended 3 August again reacted. At 390.6p/kg the GB all prime cattle indicator was back 4p on the week. AHDB/EBLEX estimates indicate that slaughterings were lower on the week as better grazing conditions and other on farm activities curtailed supplies coming forward. Despite this, reports suggest that, reflecting the weaker market, prices for nativebred cattle fitting specific supermarket schemes were also subject to some downward pressure. However, prices continue to trade well ahead of year earlier levels as the fundamental tight supply is maintained, amid robust demand for assured product.

The cheaper Polish beef available on the EU market has continued to impact on the domestic and export cow trade. In week ended 3 August, cull cow prices on both a live and deadweight basis dropped significantly. To some extent this demonstrates the commodity nature of the cow beef trade where price is the main driver to demand.

Latest prices at GB auction markets are more positive. In week ended 7 August, tighter prime cattle supplies have supported an uplift in prices. The all cattle average was up over 3p on the week at 202.9p/kg. Although cow prices at auction appear to be subdued, trade on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week has been marginally ahead compared to the week earlier.

Irish cattle slaughterings up in the first half of the year

The December 2012 Irish cattle census delivered evidence of growing confidence in the Irish cattle sector. Overall cattle numbers were up 5% on the year. As expected, this has resulted in more beef coming onto the market in the first six months of the year. According to the Irish Central Statistics Office, at 758,300 cattle slaughterings were up nearly 10% or 69,000 head, on the year.

Despite increased throughputs and a subsequent 5% increase in beef production, Irish cattle prices have continued to perform strongly with trade being underpinned by tight supplies across Europe, particularly in the UK. In the wake of the horse meat issue and reflective of the change in the market to some extent, demand for Irish quality assured beef in the UK has been robust. However, with UK supplies forecast to recover marginally in the second half of this year, there is the potential for demand for Irish product to dampen.

Further analysis is available on the EBLEX website.

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