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

AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

09 December 2013

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 6 December 2013EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 6 December 2013

Balanced market continues

As has been the case for a number of weeks, the market remains finely balanced, with relatively tight supplies being met with subdued demand for beef. As a result, for week ended 30 November, deadweight cattle prices were little changed from the previous week’s level. The all prime average was up just under a penny at 388.3p/kg, driven by a 3p rise in young bull prices, while steer and heifer averages were up only marginally. While overall cull cow prices fell again, there was some recovery in the GB -04L price, which gained over 5p to stand at 233.1p/kg.

In contrast to the deadweight market, there have been significant increases in liveweight prices this week. However, this can largely be attributed to the Christmas shows and sales, with prize animals realising prices well above the normal market value. A sharp rise is normal during this week, particularly for steers, but is rarely sustained with the marketing period for the Christmas trade coming to an end. The all prime average for the week ended 4 December was up 11p at 210.9p/kg. This is 7p higher than in the equivalent week last year.

Beef purchases impacted by poor roasting sales

The latest Kantar Worldpanel data, covering the four weeks to 10 November, reports that household volume purchases of beef were down 10%, compared to the same period last year. Consumers were put off by the high price of beef, which was up 10%, on a year earlier, meaning they spent 1% less on beef during the period.

There were lower purchases across almost all cuts, with beef roasting joints particularly affected, being a quarter behind last year. Fewer households bought joints, with some shoppers switching into alternative meats for roasting meals. The year-on-year comparison was heavily impacted by a 50% fall in volumes at one of the top four retailers; this followed a strong promotional sales uplift in the equivalent four-week period in 2012. However, for that retailer volume levels remained higher than the same period in 2011, while overall beef roasting purchases were only 5% lower than two years ago.

Purchases of other beef cuts were also lower. The smallest decline was for mince, with the quantity sold down by 3%. However, expenditure on mince rose 5%, largely driven by higher prices, which stood at £5.57 in the latest period, 8% higher than last year. Frying/grilling cuts have struggled across the top five retailers, with an 8% reduction in the number of households purchasing compared to last year. The average price paid for these cuts was up by 19%, similar to the rise for roasting joints.

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