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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

29 July 2014

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 25 July 2014EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 25 July 2014

Good news for the beef sector?

In week ended 19 July, the deadweight cattle trade broadly levelled again. With some modest variations in price across the different categories of cattle, the all prime average price was up almost a penny up on the week at 325.8p/kg. This coming despite more cattle being forward according to AHDB/EBLEX estimates. As such, with the trade still hovering around this level for another week, the stability in the market is evidently continuing. Additionally, there has been some modest strengthening to the liveweight trade this week.

While this position is better news for producers, reports suggest that some processors remain cautious. While some are actively in the market looking for cattle, others are managing their stocks tightly in order to avoid adding to cold store supplies. The stability in the trade would suggest that consumer demand is faring better of late, perhaps again buoyed by the continuation of good weather. However, the problem of carcase balance continues to be a significant issue facing processors and is contributing to the current lid on prices. The latest data from Kantar Worldpanel indicates that, in the four weeks to 22 June, mince accounted for 54 per cent of all beef sales.

Looking ahead, while the demand side of the equation is clearly critical to domestic price developments, equally so is the forecast for supplies. Current indications from Ireland are that, while supplies are likely to remain strong over the summer, in the second half of the year they will tighten. In the UK, the latest forecast for supplies will be published next week and are also expected to show a tightening in the supply position in the second half of this year.

Irish imports up again

In May the UK imported 20,000 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef, up 4% compared with last year. For another month, increased shipments of Irish beef drove this rise - volumes were up 14%. With Ireland accounting for 72% of UK imports during the month, this relationship continues to be the overwhelmingly dominant factor in UK import trends. As well as increased volumes, imports continued to be cheaper than they were a year ago, with average values during May down 8% on the year.

Further adding to the supply of beef on the UK market, there have been lower volumes exported. This comes as UK product has struggled to compete, given its high price and the unfavourable movement of sterling. During May export volumes were down 5% on the year.

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