Soft autumn cow beef market can be avoided in 2007

UNITED KINGDOM - The soft market for cull cows over the peak seasonal culling period may be avoided next autumn if more big companies are actively exporting, more supermarkets include a fraction of cow beef in their mince, and more breeders, particularly those in the dairy sector, make more effort to present their cows in more marketable condition.
calendar icon 11 December 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

So says the National Beef Association which although disappointed with recent, all-cow, deadweight averages of just 122p per kilo, and averages of only around 45p and 67p a live kilo for dairy and beef cows at auction, still thinks prices will be better next autumn when the market, and its suppliers, are more organised.

“The cow market was caught by sheer weight of numbers Both slaughterers and de-boners were coping well until trade was hit with heavy seasonal dairy and suckler culling, “explained NBA chairman, Duff Burrell.

“Until then hard working domestic traders were able to keep on top of newly discovered internal demand for both fresh and manufacturing beef from OTM animals but when the flood came newly emergent export sales were not enough on their own to cope with the extra numbers.”

However much stronger prices can be expected next autumn if the impact of the dozen big players already established on the cow beef market is strengthened by a fresh group of large slaughterers who feel more confident about export deliveries into France and The Netherlands.

“More big companies which are currently quite happy to concentrate on UTM beef need to take their place on the cow market. If they do it will also help to reduce the proportion of export sales conducted through import agents who were deducting fees the equivalent of 20p per dwkg – which had an obvious impact on purchase prices too,” said Mr Burrell.

“And if more supermarkets began to include ten per cent OTM beef in their mince the domestic market would have a stronger base too.”

“But farmers can play their part in helping to maintain autumn prices by selling as many cows as they can outside the main culling season and making sure that more of those they do cull in autumn are in better market condition.”

“Better links with specialist finishers, perhaps most easily achieved through the auction system, would also help because at least 15 per cent of cows sold in October-November would have benefited a short, sharp, period of finishing.”

“Our overview is that the cow beef trade has established itself remarkably well domestically in little over a year but more export activity will be needed next autumn if another round of seasonally soft trading is to be avoided.”

“Exports promoters have done a good job so far but a real coup would be to persuade more of the UK's really big companies to commit themselves to regular cow beef trading before next autumn,” Mr Burrell added.

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