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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

10 February 2015

EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 10 February 2015EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 10 February 2015

Stability in the cattle trade for another week

In week ended 31 January, the prime cattle trade was broadly unchanged on the previous week. The anticipated January slowdown in consumer demand may just be starting to take the edge off trade, keeping a lid on any upwards pressure on price. With estimates suggesting that the number of cattle coming forward in the week was around 700 head lower than a week earlier, the market is continuing to demonstrate a degree of balance at the moment. The overall GB prime cattle average price edged up a fraction to 363.8p/kg. Steers levelled at 365.1p/kg, while those falling within the R4L specification moved up almost a penny to be back to their highest point in almost a year at 374.9p/kg

Cow prices were firm for another week. The overall GB deadweight cow price was up almost 2p on the week earlier at 223.4p/kg. This comes as slaughtering estimates indicate around 700 fewer cows came forward compared with the previous week. With trade demonstrating robust demand at the moment, reports suggest that producers are still adding finish to those cows that they are able to, in order to take advantage of the better prices on offer for better fleshed cows.

Beef sales benefit from promotional activity

Grocery expenditure was up almost 2% at Christmas, boosted by a fall in prices. It would appear that consumers took advantage of this by stocking up on volumes over the festive period. Retailers drove the lower end of the grocery price tier market through price cuts but trading-up was a key feature. According to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel, fresh beef was up on the year in both expenditure and volume terms over the Christmas period, as more households bought beef more often. Over half of households bought fresh beef in the four week period to 4 January 2015 and there was some switching to beef evident from all meats, particularly lamb and pork. Strong promotional activity from key retailers drove an increased amount of roasting joint purchases. Meanwhile, stewing beef purchases also experienced both expenditure and volume growth, following declines at the end of 2013.

The biggest winners in terms of year on year growth were at opposite ends of the retail spectrum, the hard discounters and premium retailers. The largest volume gains came from one of the Big 4 retailers but this was against a backdrop of a poor 2013 Christmas performance. A more detailed review of Christmas performance will be available in the Cattle and Sheep Market Update published at the end of the month.

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