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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

25 October 2013

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 25 October 2013EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 25 October 2013

Lid stays on cattle prices

In week ended 19 October, at 391.4p/kg, the GB all prime cattle indicator was back 2p on the week. This fall comes in response to cattle supplies reportedly being slightly ahead of demand, which has been somewhat subdued following the relatively mild weather lately. AHDB/EBLEX slaughter estimates for the week were broadly stand on. Reports also suggest that processors are balancing their supplies tightly and have a reluctance to draw additional cattle forward in the short term, which has helped keep a lid on prices. However, with the seasonal uplift in demand expected soon and with supply and demand still finely balanced, it is likely that upwards pressure on price will re-assert itself.

The cull cow trade continued the recent market trend and eased again. The GB -04L cow price was back a penny on the week to average 253.6p/kg in week ended 19 October. While demand for manufacturing beef appears to be seasonally subdued, this latest fall is potentially more of a quality issue as producers look to market their plainer cows ahead of winter. Additionally, better quality animals are likely to be kept for further feeding, as increased feed availability and lower prices afford producers this opportunity. These animals may instead come forward in the New Year.

Robust domestic demand impacts on trade

The latest HMRC trade data for August has been published and is available on the EBLEX website. With tight cow beef supplies and firm demand for manufacturing beef on the domestic market, beef and veal exports in August were back 26% on the year. Shipments to Ireland were down significantly, while overall volumes to the Netherlands were also significantly lower on the year, despite more frozen product being shipped. The value of this trade was only 17% down on the year at £27.4 million, as higher unit values offset the lower volumes to some degree.

Beef and veal imports during August were also lower than year earlier levels. Somewhat surprisingly, given higher production and market reports suggesting increased volumes, shipments from Ireland were reportedly 6% lower year on year. Volumes from the Netherlands were back almost 30% as demand for manufacturing beef in the UK was fulfilled to a large extent by domestic supplies.

These lower volumes were somewhat offset by increased volumes from a number of other sources. Notably, Namibia became the third largest supplier of beef to the UK imports market, with volumes doubling on the year. Botswana is once again also sending beef to the UK and was the fourth largest supplier during August.

Cattle numbers up in Ireland

Overall cattle numbers in Ireland were up over 2% on the year, according to the June census recently published by the Irish Central Statistics Office. Most of this increase resulted from a large rise in the number of male cattle. As expected, this has resulted in more beef coming onto the market in 2013 to date. At just over one million head, prime cattle slaughterings up to August, were up almost 9% on the year.

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