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

AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

28 April 2014

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 25 April 2014EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 25 April 2014

Deadweight cattle prices level

In week ended 19 April the deadweight cattle trade broadly stood on. With supply and demand matched in the disrupted Easter week, the all prime average price was only a fraction down on the week at 355.9p/kg. While average steer and heifer values levelled, young bulls, on average, were more expensive. With cattle benefiting from the improved conditions and better quality forage, the number coming forward should remain relatively strong. As such, the supply/demand balance is likely to remain narrow, thus keeping a lid on the resumption of any upwards pressure on price in the short term.

Despite this, the holiday disruptions did give some impetus to the liveweight trade. In week ended 23 April, prime cattle values at GB auction marts showed some uplift. With all classes of cattle strengthening on lower numbers, the all prime indicator was up 6p on the week at 186.3p/kg.

Carcase quality continues to improve

The quality of British beef carcases improved last year according to the latest annual carcase classification results released by EBLEX. With significant improvements in steer and heifer results, over 55% of all carcases in the sample met the ‘R4L or better’ target market specification. This represents an increase of almost 4% on the year and was achieved despite an increase in dairy male calf registrations in the period 2008 to 2012. With current difficulties in the trade for cattle outside target specification, these results are encouraging. These results indicate that producers are maximising their financial returns by producing the type of finished cattle the market place really wants and is prepared to pay the highest price for.

Contrasting trends in trade

According to the latest HMRC data, exports of beef and veal in February were down 21% on year earlier levels at 8,100 tonnes. This fall was largely the result of declining shipments to other EU member states as availability, relative price and consumer demand all impacted on volumes. Meanwhile, overall volumes to non-EU markets fell only 7% on the year. Of these, the largest destination remained Hong Kong, with shipments more than doubling on the year.

Imports of beef and veal were above year earlier levels in February, being up 8% to 17,050 tonnes. Much of this uplift is as a result of increased shipments from Ireland. As expected, export availability in Ireland has been boosted by the continued increase in production. Imports from outside the EU were back 14% on the year as Australia, Namibia, Uruguay and Brazil all recorded lower shipments.

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