- news, features, articles and disease information for the beef industry

AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

04 November 2013

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 1 November 2013EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 1 November 2013

Cattle trade still finely balanced

As expected, ahead of the start of the Christmas procurement period, in week ended 26 October deadweight cattle prices eased again. With all classes of cattle cheaper on the week, the GB all prime cattle indicator was back another 3p to average 388.0p/kg. Reports suggest that with the somewhat mild weather continuing, consumer demand has not increased significantly enough to offset adequate supplies. However, with the seasonal uplift in demand imminent, it is likely that upwards pressure on price will reassert itself, particularly for cattle which meet tight supermarket specifications, as processors attempt to source adequate supplies to fulfil contracts.

Cow prices continue to be under pressure. In week ended 26 October the –O4L cow price fell 8p on the week to average 245.5p/kg. Cow prices on the continent have also fallen and given that the UK is an exporter of cow beef, this may have contributed to the movement in domestic prices. The sustained price decline since the summer is seasonal to some degree. However, it has been more marked than normal, suggesting some easing in demand given production was behind last year’s level during the summer. The increased availability of cheaper Polish beef on some markets has also contributed to the easing in demand. Further analysis of the EU cow market is available on the EBLEX website.

Reduced sales of stewing and roasting joints impact on overall beef performance

According to the latest Kantar Wordpanel data, in the four weeks to 13 October household beef purchases declined 4% on the year. This fall was heavily influenced by a notable reduction in the number of households buying stewing beef, which resulted in a 16% decrease in household purchases compared to last year. On the back of a significant reduction in the number of consumers buying beef roasting joints sales also struggled. Increased promotional activity on pork leg and shoulder roasting joints appeared to have provided an attractive, cost-effective alternative to shoppers buying roasting joints. Mince sales were back almost 1% on the corresponding period last year.

Despite the fall in volume purchases the continued increase in average retail prices drove expenditure in the four-week period up 4% on the year to £165 million.

Little change to the forecast for prime cattle supplies

The key conclusions of the latest AHDB/EBLEX forecasts for the UK cattle sector are now available in detail on the EBLEX website. With a drop in production and a broadly unchanged trade position, supplies available for domestic consumption in 2013 are revised lower from previous forecasts. A small increase in available supply is expected in 2014, largely on the back of an increase in production and imports.

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