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

AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

13 January 2014

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 10 January 2014EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 10 January 2014

New Year trade subdued

In week ending 4 January 2014, with New Year holidays limiting trade and some abattoirs operating a shorter working week, throughputs were still significantly lower than in the weeks before the holiday period. However, despite this, with demand at retail level continuing to be subdued, deadweight cattle prices eased back on the week. The all prime average price was down almost 2p to 381.6p/ kg. Steers and heifers were both cheaper on the week while, in contrast, young bulls increased slightly in price.

At GB auction markets, in the first full week’s trading in the New Year, ended 9 January, liveweight cattle prices eased compared to the previous disrupted holiday week. All classes of prime cattle were cheaper on the week and, as such, the all prime cattle average was down 7p to 199.0p/ kg. A return to normal trading meant that numbers forward were significantly up on the previous week.

The traditional pattern for January and early February would be for some easing of prices as consumer demand is subdued with budgets tighter following the holiday period. As such, any upwards pressure on prices might be limited for a period. However the fundamentally tight supply situation continues which, should demand improve, has the potential to result in some resumption of the upwards trend later in the year.

Reduced purchases of roasting and mince impacts on beef’s performance

According to the latest Kantar Wordpanel data, in the four weeks to 8 December, household purchases of beef declined 4% on the year. However, despite this, overall expenditure on beef demonstrated some growth. As a direct result of a continued rise in average prices, the value of sales increased 5% on the year to £186 million. Household purchases of beef roasting joints were back 5% on the same period last year, largely on the back of an overall decline in the number of households buying them. Within the category, there was some growth in volume purchases by retired households but the fall in purchases by younger households more than offset this. Sales of beef roasting joints have been hampered by shoppers looking for cheaper alternative protein sources, with some switching to pork and chicken.

There was also a 5% reduction in beef mince purchases, largely on the back of fewer households buying mince compared to last year. However, consumers also bought less mince on each shopping trip, a development likely to have been influenced by the 13% increase in the average price paid.

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