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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

31 March 2014

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 28 March 2014EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 28 March 2014

Adequate supplies keep a lid on prime trade again

In week ended 22 March the prime cattle trade continued to be somewhat lacklustre on the back of slow demand and adequate supplies. With demand showing little change, supply continues to be the determining factor in price movements. Latest AHDB/ EBLEX estimates suggest that throughputs were up on the week, resulting in some downwards pressure on prices. The GB all prime deadweight average was back a little over a penny on the week at 362.1p/kg.

The estimated number of steers forward increased by over 500 head, which contributed to the price of R4L steers falling a penny on the week to 372.5p/kg. The number of heifers estimated to have been marketed also increased. Consequently, at 368.1p/kg, R4L heifers were also back a similar amount week on week. Despite fewer young bulls being forward, overall prices declined 3p/kg. At 327.8p/kg in the latest week, young bull values are now at their lowest point for 18 months as processors continued to apply significant penalties to out of spec animals. In contrast to the overall trade R3 graded young bulls increased nearly 3p on the week.

Liveweight prime cattle prices have also been somewhat subdued, with the all prime indicator in week ended 26 March falling nearly 2p on the week to average 186.2p/kg. Throughputs of prime cattle at GB auction marts increased 6% on the week, largely as a result of more young bulls coming forward. There is now some indication that more producers are sending young bulls to market in order to avoid the penalties that are currently being incurred when marketing some of these cattle deadweight.

Boneless cuts outperform subdued export trade

UK beef and veal exports in January were significantly lower on the year. At 6,300 tonnes total volumes were back almost 40%. This comes as UK availability was lower and UK prices generally remain well above European levels. In contrast to the overall trade, higher valued chilled boneless cuts continued to perform well. Of the 5,140 tonnes of fresh/chilled shipments 60%, or just over 3,000 tonnes, was boneless product. This represents a sizeable increase on the share in previous years. Overall, with a 23% increase in the unit price offsetting the lower volumes to some extent, the value of exports in January was 25% back on the year at £24 million.

Imports in January were unchanged on the year as increased shipments from the UK’s main suppliers were offset by lower shipments from a range of smaller suppliers. Of the key suppliers, both Ireland and the Netherlands sent increased volumes, up 10% and 28% respectively. In contrast, a range of smaller suppliers, including Germany, Poland, Uruguay and Namibia all recorded lower volumes.

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