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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

12 December 2014

EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly December 2014EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly December 2014

Cattle Weekly

Cattle trade edges up

In week ended 6 December, following stability in the previous week, the deadweight cattle trade edged up a fraction. With some modest variations in price across the different categories of cattle, the all prime average price was up just half a penny on the week at 353.2p/kg. This comes despite more cattle being forward, according to AHDB/EBLEX estimates. As such, the fact that the trade is still moving up, albeit modestly, provides evidence that the market remains robust. This continues to be welcome news for producers, especially as reports suggest that some processors now have adequate supplies in storage and much of the retail scheme buying for Christmas has ended.

Steers falling within the R4L specification levelled on the week at 365.7p/kg, while heifers of the same specification crept up to 363.4p/kg. In contrast, R3 young bulls made up most of what they lost last week, increasing over 3p on the week to average 337.0p/kg. While prime cattle are now trading at their highest point since April, prices are still some way behind year earlier levels. Price penalties are still very much in place for cattle not achieving the right grade or weight. Consequently, as the year comes to an end, and with a subdued start to 2015 a possibility, producers should be proactive in marketing their cattle at the right time in order to maximise returns. On the back of firmer demand, the cow trade bucked the trend of the past few weeks and in the latest week, at 225.5p/kg, the -O4L average was up 2p on the week.

Seasonal trend reflected in beef sales

According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel figures, the amount of beef purchased over the three months to 9 November has slowly been increasing in line with the usual seasonal trend. This increase has been particularly prominent in sales of stewing cuts, which have almost doubled over the three month period. However, despite this seasonally-driven upturn in performance, beef sales still remain down on last year’s levels as higher prices were reflected in the make-up of the shopping baskets of price conscious consumers. Compared to the same period a year ago, while the overall number of households buying beef was unchanged, shoppers bought smaller amounts on each trip.

The relatively high price of beef has continued to contribute to consumers moving towards fresh chicken and pork, both of which have recorded a fall in average prices over the year. Mince was the only beef product not to record a year-on-year increase in average price. This has been partly due to an increase in the volume of mince sold on promotion from certain retailers and a greater proportion of sales going through the hard discounters with their lower base prices

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