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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

20 February 2015

EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 20 February 2015EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 20 February 2015

Modest easing in the prime cattle trade

In week ended 14 February, the prime cattle trade edged back on the previous week again. With estimates suggesting that the number of cattle coming forward compared with the week earlier was a fraction lower, suggests that some buyers have been more selective. Consequently, and to no surprise, commercial cattle out of supermarket specification have felt the pressure most. However, the overall GB prime cattle average price came back just over a penny on the week to 359.8p/kg. While steers came back a fraction to average 361.5p/kg, heifers were down 2p at 363.4p/kg and young bulls averaged 6p lower than last week, at 323.9p/kg.

Cow prices were firm for another week buoyed by robust domestic demand for cheaper cuts of beef as consumers continue to feel the after effects of the Christmas season. The overall GB deadweight cow price was up another 2p on the week to average 226.7p/kg, while -04L cows strengthened 4p to reach 244.1p/kg. This comes as slaughtering estimates indicate around 1,000 fewer cows came forward compared with the previous week and demand remains particularly firm for well fleshed suckler culls.

Beef and veal exports perform well in December

According to latest data from HMRC, on the back of increased production, beef and veal exports in December are recorded as being up 13% on the year at 10,300 tonnes. Shipments to Ireland increased significantly, while those to the Netherlands were back 15% on the year.

Trade to the smaller markets was varied: lower to France and Italy but higher to Greece and Denmark. In line with recent developments, the largest year-on-year growth in shipments was recorded to Hong Kong. Combined with the continued shift away from fresh/chilled carcase shipments to higher-priced cuts, this meant that at £34.9 million, the value of trade in December was up 6% on the year. The more positive performance in recent months means that, in the year as a whole at 112,000 tonnes, exports are up 6% on the year, returning £375 million to the UK industry.

Imports were again significantly above year-earlier levels, being up 13% at 26,400 tonnes. There was a return to notable uplift in product from Ireland, although it was only modestly cheaper than in the corresponding month last year. For the year as a whole, imports totalled 255,000 tonnes, their highest volume for 10 years.

Increased Irish beef production last year

Beef and veal production in Ireland last year was up almost 13% at 582,000 tonnes. Inevitably this resulted in increased exports, particularly to the UK, which contributed to the pressure on the market. This year it is expected that the pressure from Irish supplies should ease considerably. Read more about this on the EBLEX website.

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