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

AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

03 February 2014

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 31 January 2014EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 31 January 2014

Processor caution continues

For another week cattle prices eased back as sluggish demand and caution from processors continued to affect trade. Reports suggest that the focus on procuring stock within the tight supermarket specification has intensified. Penalties for stock outside of the ‘ideal range’, or not quality assured, have continued to increase. With prices falling across all categories, the all prime indicator in week ended 25 January was back another 4p to 372.3p/kg. Young bulls meeting the R3 specification only eased by a penny on the week. However, the overall young bull price was back 8p/kg. This demonstrates further evidence of the current difficult market conditions for young bulls outside industry requirements. Despite these latest price declines, the all prime deadweight average price is still up 3% compared to the same week last year.

Since the turn of the year the cull cow market has held up better than the prime trade, in the latest week the -04L price was back less than a penny on the week. Reports suggest that demand for cows at the right age and grade is moderately robust at the moment, giving an indication that processors stocks are not overly high.

Availability the key to export performance

With production levels still having an impact on supplies available for export, beef and veal exports in November were back almost a quarter on the year. Despite this, within the product mix, higher valued boneless cuts still did well, increasing on the year and accounting for half of all fresh/chilled shipments, notably more than in the corresponding month two years ago when it was around 35%. With the unit value of fresh/chilled boneless shipments averaging £4,200 per tonne in November, a third more than the overall unit value of exports, continued growth in this higher value segment is continuing to deliver returns to the UK industry.

Beef and veal imports in November were 7% higher than year earlier levels, largely on the back of increased shipments from Ireland. Shipments from Poland declined 7% on the year. The Polish beef industry is very export dependent. While an immediate result of the ban on ritual slaughter last year appears to have been a surge in displaced beef onto Continental EU markets, the latest data indicates that in the year to November shipments to the UK are only modestly higher. Further details of Polish trade developments can be found on the EBLEX website.

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