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Scottish Prime Beef Prices Falling

25 March 2015
QMS - Quality Meat Scotland

SCOTLAND - Scottish deadweight prime cattle prices fell back for a sixth week despite lower numbers at price reporting abattoirs.

According to Quality Meat Scotland, this indicates a weakness of demand.

The most significant falls were for the better grades with U and R grading steers and heifers down 2-3p on the week whereas prices for O grade cattle were more stable.

Compared to the same week last year, prices were around three per cent lower while volumes were down by nearly 10 per cent.

In the auction ring, an increased supply of male cattle saw prices fall back sharply. At 195p/kg lwt, the prime cattle average fell by 8.5p on the week and was at its lowest level since early November.

Compared to a year earlier, it was down six per cent.

Having made significant increases in recent weeks as supplies tightened, the average deadweight cow price edged back as a higher volume of cows reached price reporting abattoirs.

Some grades attracted higher prices than in the previous week, while others fell back.

The auction trade also cooled slightly.

This was despite a further decrease in marketings, suggesting weak demand; though it may have been influenced by the quality of cows being traded.

The deadweight average was four per cent above its year earlier level while auction prices averaged around two per cent higher.

As GB price reporting abattoirs handled the fewest number of hoggs of the year so far, the average price picked up.

However, the increase was limited by a decline in carcase quality and the average price fell by one per cent behind its year earlier level.

Meanwhile, at Scottish auctions, although prices picked up for a fourth week, they were down 5.5 per cent year-on-year as a further weakening of the euro acted as a significant headwind to the export trade.

QMS said that since the 9 March start date of the European Central Bank’s bond buying programme, the euro has been trading around 15 per cent weaker against sterling than 12 months ago.

Cull ewe prices edged back despite lower numbers. Nevertheless, prices remained more than a fifth higher year-on-year.

Though pig producer prices continued to fall, the weekly decline was its smallest of the year-to-date.

Prices for the lightest and heaviest carcases picked up due to tighter supplies, but those weighing 60-100kg continued to fall.

Although the weakening of the euro will not have helped in terms of price competitiveness in the home market and overseas, this has been offset to some extent by a lift in producer prices on the continent from their low point at the end of January.

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