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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly


18 May 2015

EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 18 May 2015EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 18 May 2015


Pressure on prices still in place

As the supply and demand imbalance continues, deadweight cattle prices came under further pressure in the week ended 9 May, with a fall of nearly 5p in the GB prime cattle average price to 327.5p/kg. This was a similar fall to the previous week and the average price has now fallen below the five-year average for the time of year. Since the beginning of April prices for prime cattle have fallen by nearly 20p/kg, with some reports suggesting that prices could remain depressed until June. Should any improvement in demand occur, however, the situation could change quite rapidly.

Higher imports despite lower Irish supplies

Imports of beef to the UK were up 1,900 tonnes in March, compared with the same month in 2014, to 23,200 tonnes. Imports from Ireland remained relatively stable at 16,100 tonnes, adding evidence that supplies there are tightening. Imports from other EU member states showed an increase, compared to March 2014. This was due to higher availability since the Russian ban on imports and a favourable exchange rate. As further evidence of the effect of the exchange rate, in euro terms, unit prices increased by approximately €1,200 per tonne, making the UK market very attractive to exporters. Even in sterling terms, unit prices increased by £300 per tonne.

Exports of beef for March stood at 8,100 tonnes, down 6%, compared to March 2014. Exports to Ireland were up by a quarter, although some of this product may have been sent to Ireland for further processing and then re-exported. With the exception of Italy and France, exports to other EU countries were more challenging in March. For example, shipments to the Netherlands and Belgium were down by 42% and 37% respectively. This mixed picture is partly due to a shift from exports of carcases, which make up a high share of exports to the Netherlands and Belgium, to higher-value boneless cuts, which dominate trade with Italy and France. Outside the EU, Hong Kong appears to be becoming increasingly important, with exports more than quadrupling compared with last March.

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