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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

22 December 2014

EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly 19 December 2014EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly 19 December 2014

Cattle Weekly

Cattle trade still fairly robust

As the year draws to a close, the cattle trade appears to be demonstrating some stability. In week ended 13 December, despite procurement for Christmas being over, the GB average deadweight price edged up a fraction to 353.5p/kg. Reports suggest that there is still robust competition in the market for consignments of cattle fitting supermarket specification. Despite carrying high stocks into the holiday period, processors are looking to ensure they have adequate supplies of product to meet their retail commitments into the New Year. With AHDB/ EBLEX slaughtering estimates indicating that throughputs of steers remained well ahead of year earlier levels, the fact that farmgate prices have held up could indicate somewhat better consumer demand.

Following last week’s modest uplift in the cow trade and with the regular Christmas slowdown on the horizon, the more positive climate continued for another week. At 226.3p/kg in the latest week, another penny was added to the -04L average price. The cow market across the EU has been under some pressure recently - prices have fallen sharply this autumn. This has largely been led by developments in France, both in terms of production and consumption, but the Russian ban on EU agricultural products in August has also had an impact. In the UK, prices have held up a little better than in other member states. In early December, prices in the UK had fallen around 6% over the past three months, while in France they were down 13%. Consequently, the price discount for UK cows, compared to French ones, has narrowed to below €10 per 100 kg. In the summer it was around €30 and last autumn was over €50.

Beef production higher again

UK prime cattle slaughterings in November were up 3% on the year at 161,900 head. Yet again, this increase was mainly driven by a rise in steer slaughterings in all regions of the UK. Throughputs were up 14% on the year at 84,300 head. However, in a turnaround from recent months, heifer throughputs were also higher, up 2% year on year at 62,600 head. Mitigating this increase to some extent, young bull slaughterings were again significantly down on the year earlier. At 15,000 head, this represented a decline of around one third on November 2013. Throughputs of adult cattle were back just 1% to 57,200 head, largely driven by fewer cows forward during the month. After a year of improved conditions, carcase weights for all classes of prime cattle have been consistently higher this year. With November no exception to this, coupled with higher prime cattle throughputs, beef and veal production was up 3% on the year at 74,000 tonnes.

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