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QMS (Quality Meat Scotland)

20 October 2014

QMS (Quality Meat Scotland) October 2014QMS (Quality Meat Scotland) October 2014

QMS - Quality Meat Scotland


Prices and Supplies

Deadweight prime cattle prices continued to rise through September and into October, with the average steer reaching a 24-week high of 373p/kg dwt in the week ending October 4. Though 10p higher than a month earlier, this was nevertheless still 10.5% lower than in the same week last year. After easing back in the second half of September, the prime cattle average at Scottish auctions picked up at the beginning of October, reaching a 24-week high of 202p/kg lwt. Nevertheless, it was still 11% lower than in the same week last year.

Despite slipping seasonally to its lowest level of the year so far in terms of weekly average, the prime cattle kill at UK abattoirs during August was 9% higher year-on-year at 143,250 head. This was the fourth consecutive month to show an increase. However, fewer young bulls were slaughtered than a year earlier for a seventh month, falling by 16.5%. By contrast, the steer kill was considerably higher, rising by 23%. In addition, following two months of declines, 5% more heifers were slaughtered. Meanwhile, the regional breakdown showed respective increases of 5.5% and 12.5% in Scotland and England & Wales, but a 0.5% decline in Northern Ireland. The average prime cattle carcase weighed 348kg at UK abattoirs during August. This was a seasonal decline of 3kg on the month but it remained 11kg higher on the year.

The average steer weighed 365kg, the average heifer 323kg and the average young bull 351kg. At Scottish abattoirs, prime cattle throughput ran ahead of its year earlier level for a fourth consecutive month in August. The rate of increase picked up to nearly 5.5% from 1.5% in July. Numbers totalled 30,200 head. Abattoirs continued to find male cattle in good supply but heifers were scarce.

Indeed, while the steer kill increased by 11% year-on-year and the young bull kill by 14%, 5% fewer heifers reached Scottish abattoirs. There was a seasonal decline in carcase weights at Scottish abattoirs in August with the prime cattle average slipping to 364kg from 369.5kg in July. However, it did move 18kg ahead of its year earlier level. Steers averaged 385kg, heifers 335.5kg and young bulls 359kg. Compared to last August these were increases of 20kg, 15kg and 5kg respectively.

The combination of higher carcase weights and increased slaughter numbers led to an 11% year-on-year increase in the volume of prime beef production at Scottish abattoirs. Deadweight producer prices for most grades of cull cows continued to trade relatively steady into October. The overall average has also lacked direction in recent weeks; though changes in quality have caused week-to-week fluctuations.

In the week ended October 4, the average cull cow price stood at 245p/kg dwt; 1p/kg above its January to September average, but still 9% below its year earlier level. At Scottish auctions, cow prices have fallen seasonally of late, pushing them back towards their levels of early August, trading at 112.5p/kg lwt at the start of October. As prices cooled more rapidly last autumn, the year-on-year declines have narrowed to 8% at price reporting abattoirs and to 3% at Scottish auctions. For the first time in five months, UK abattoirs slaughtered more mature cattle than a year earlier during August. Throughput increased by 7% to 45,300 head. However, this was still lower than in August 2011 or 2012. By contrast, the mature cattle kill north of the border continued to run behind last year’s level in August. Slaughterings fell 8.5% to 4,500 head but averaged above 1,000 head a week for the first time since March.

Beef production at UK abattoirs was 12% higher than twelve months before in August 2014 at 64,500t. On a weekly basis, production increased between July and August for only the second time in the past 9 years. Kantar Worldpanel data indicates that GB household beef consumption held up better this summer than a year ago. Indeed, sales volumes increased by 5% year-on-year in the 12 weeks to August 17 as an 8% rise in expenditure more than offset a 3% higher average price. Roasting joints saw the largest increase in consumption with purchased volumes up 11.5%.

Steaks also performed well, rising by 7% and there was a 3.5% gain for mince. By contrast, purchases of stewing beef continued to decline, falling by 2%. After steadying in September, Irish prime cattle prices lifted as October began. R3 grade steers picked up 2c/kg on the week to reach a 6-week high of €3.54/kg dwt (277p/kg). Nevertheless, prices fell 7.5% short of their year-earlier level. Compared to the average UK R3 steer, Irish prices were 21% lower; a year earlier this had been 19%.

Most countries on the continent favour young bull production over steers. At the beginning of October the average price for an R3 grade young bull in the EU 28 was 1% higher on the month at €3.64/kg dwt (285p/kg). In a number of the major beef-producing nations, such as Germany, Spain and Poland, prices rose in line with the average. The main exceptions to the downside were France andHolland, where prices cooled by 1%. On the other hand, prices increased by 2.5% in Ireland and by 4.5% in the UK. Whereas UK young bull prices traded 17% above the EU average, Irish prices were 4% below it.

Though EU28 R3 grade young bull prices averaged slightly higher on the month, they remained marginally lower year-on-year. Prices were down by an above-average 3% in France and Holland, but were up 1% in Italy and Ireland, and by 3% in the UK.

Seasonal pressure on cow prices across much of the EU saw the average price for an O3 grade cull cow slip back by nearly 2% on the month, trading at €2.82/kg dwt (221p/kg) in the week to October 5. While prices in Spain, France and Germany fell 3%, there was a smaller 1% decline in Holland and Polish prices were unchanged.

By contrast, UK prices picked up by 1.5% and a 3% gain accrued to Irish producers. These against-the-grain increases saw Irish prices move 6% above the EU average while UK prices began October 11.5% higher than the average. A month earlier these premia had stood at 1.5% and 7.5%, respectively. Prices remained lower than last year across much of the continent, averaging 5% lower. The UK and Greece were the main exceptions, now matching in the former and up by 1% in the latter.

HMRC trade data indicates that July was the third consecutive month that UK beef exports exceeded year earlier levels. Export volumes grew by 7% over the same month last year to reach 8,500t as higher domestic production made more UK beef available for export. At 11% of July beef production, exports took a slightly greater share of the market than 12 months before. Export prices came under pressure from the strong pound and the average value of shipments fell 9% year-on-year to £3,500/t.

Trade with other EU Member States rose by 6.5% year-on-year in July and reached 7,900t. This was largely driven by increases in export volumes delivered to the largest markets ofIreland and the Netherlands. Sales to Ireland rose 18% to 2,900t and lifted by 9% to Holland, reaching 2,450t. Elsewhere, while exports to Belgium, France, Germany, Spain and Poland declined, trade with Italy, Sweden and Denmark picked up. Shipments to non-EU countries held at around the 600t level for a third month in July.

As a consequence, this pushed them up by 14% on the year. Two-thirds of the total volume went to Hong Kong compared with just 10% 12 months before. Frozen beef accounted for 98% of the trade with Hong Kong. UK beef imports dipped to a 5-month low of 19,050t in July and were down by 6% from the same month last year. While imports of fresh beef were marginally above their July 2013 level, a fifth less frozen beef came into the country. The much higher level of domestic production this summer coupled with lower producer prices may well have reduced the requirement to import manufacturing beef.

Beef deliveries from the Irish Republic were 3% higher than in July 2013 at 12,600t. Though Irish beef accounted for its lowest share of total shipments in the year-to-date, at 66%, it was still well above its July 2013 share of 60%. Import volumes from non-EU countries fell by 17% year-on-year during July to 2,900t. Though total imports from Brazil and Botswana were significantly lower, fresh beef imports increased, and Uruguayan imports also rebalanced towards fresh beef.

Deliveries from Australia declined but New Zealand and Namibia increased trade with the UK. Namibia was the largest supplier in July, delivering 950t. News Round Up June Agricultural Census figures for Scotland showed that the beef herd contracted by 2.5% to 436,500 head; a loss of 10,400 beef cows. By contrast, the dairy herd expanded by 2.5% to 169,700 head; a 6-year high. As a result, the share of beef cows in the total breeding herd fell from 73% to 72%, having fluctuated between 73% and 74% since 2006. This summer’s increased prime cattle kill can be explained by an increased number of cattle aged over 24 months of age on farms in June.

The number of beef females over 24 months rose 3% to 86,250 head while there was an 11.5% increase in the number of male cattle in this age bracket, taking them to 77,800 head. However, a 2% decline in the 12-24 month population (to 391,900 head) may be a signal that supplies are about to tighten. In addition, there were 1% fewer cattle less than 12 months of age on Scottish farms in June.

This suggests that cattle supplies may continue to prove tight into the second half of 2015. The June agricultural census for England revealed that the beef herd contracted by nearly 1.5%, slipping to 710,000 head from 720,000 head in June 2013. By contrast, the dairy herd expanded by 2.5% to reach 1.143m head. Consequently, the total breeding herd grew by 1% to 1.853m head. This means that beef cows accounted for 38% of the total breeding herd, compared with 39% in June 2013 and nearly 40% in June 2012. In terms of other cattle over 2 years of age, there were 3.5% more beef females and 11% more males.

However, the lower calf registrations and higher mortality rates of 2012-13 will have contributed to the 5% decline in both male and female beef cattle aged between 12 and 24months; and this suggests the recent trend higher in slaughterings may not last. Looking slightly further forward, things may ease again given that a 1.5% increase in females aged less than 12 months more than offset a slight decline in young males.

A sharp 5% decline in Northern Ireland’s beef herd was reported in its June census as numbers fell to 257,000 head. By contrast, dairy cow numbers grew by 5% to 292,100 head and accounted for 53% of total cow numbers compared with 51% last year and 50.5% in June 2012. The total cow population slipped marginally to 549,100 head. Meanwhile, incalf heifer numbers fell sharply with beef down 15% and dairy down 8%, while 1% fewer heifers had been retained for future breeding. However, there was an 8.5% increase reported in the number of female slaughter cattle over the age of 12 months plus 13% more male slaughter cattle over 24 months of age.

Then again, there were 8% fewer males between 1 and 2 years of age and 3% fewer cattle aged less than 12 months. Though Irish export abattoirs remained well supplied with prime cattle compared with last year, slaughter growth slowed in September. Indeed, whereas throughput had exceeded 2013 levels by 26% in August, throughput rose by 10.5% in September to 107,400 head. Nevertheless, weekly kill numbers picked up to their highest levels of the year-to-date, exceeding 27,000 head in the second half of September. Not only were these the highest levels in the year-to-date, but the highest levels since October 2011.

The USDA has revised its US beef production estimates for both 2014 and 2015 due to cattle numbers on US feedlots coming in below previous expectations. With fewer finishing on feedlots this year, 2014 production has been forecast 1% lower at 11.064m tonne. Meanwhile, with fewer cattle being placed into feedlots, the USDA has reduced their 2015 production estimate to 10.755m tonnes.

This would work out as an annual decrease of nearly 3%. Though production estimates have been lowered, no change has been made to producer price forecasts as higher imports are expected to ease supply-side pressures, while increased availability and the subsequent lower prices for substitute proteins such as pork and poultry are expected to take some demand out of the market.

Uruguayan slaughter data shows that abattoirs were well supplied with cattle relative to last year during July as throughput increased by 4.5% to 152,300 head. However, compared to two years earlier, supplies still fell 7.5% short. In the opening 7 months of 2014, throughput fell by 1.5% year-on-year to 1.251m head. It was also down by 1.5% on the January to July period of 2012. In Uruguay, slaughter is widely distributed amongst a large number of abattoirs. Indeed, during July, the largest plant had a 9% share of the kill with the largest 10 accounting for only 57% of the market.

During August, Argentina exported 13,000t of fresh beef. The largest buyer was Russia, taking delivery of 4,000t – 31% of the total volume. Chile came next, purchasing 3,000t (23% of the total), while shipments to Israel totalled 2,000t (15%) and 1,800t (14%) were delivered to China. The most popular products for Russian buyers this year have been forequarter and tongue. By contrast, Chile has favoured knuckle and shoulder while Israel’s largest import has been chuck roll. The most popular product for Chinese buyers has been beef shin.


Prices and Supplies

Lamb prices at GB price reporting abattoirs stabilised in late September and early October. In the first week of October, the standard quality quotation (SQQ1 ) price edged over the 354p/kg dwt mark as increased demand from the Eid al Adha Islamic festival was largely offset by a surge in supplies. This was 15p lower than in the opening week of September and 30p below the same week last year; a decline of 8%. Prices have exhibited a similar seasonal trend to last year, meaning that the annual discount has been relatively stable at 8-10% since August. During September, 69% of price reported lambs graded at R3L or better compared with 65.5% 12 months before.

However, the proportion dipped to 65% in the final week of September before falling further to 61% as October began. Nevertheless, it remained marginally ahead of 2013 levels. Scottish auction prices for prime lambs have followed a similar seasonal pattern to last year. However, the October lift has come two weeks earlier this year. The most likely explanation is that the Islamic calendar has brought Eid-al-Adha forward by two weeks. After falling to 143.5p/kg lwt in the week ended September 24, prices then picked up ahead of the festival, rising 10p at the end of the month. This increase came despite increased volumes at the GB level, demonstrating the strength of demand.

Although prices eased a little at the start of October, they remained higher than in the first three weeks of September. At 151p/kg lwt, the average SQQ lamb was valued 9.5% lower than in early October 2013. An increased proportion of heavy lambs has continued to place downwards pressure on market prices. Indeed, in the week ending October 8, 29% of the total weekly volume of lambs sold at Scottish auctions were too heavy to be classed as SQQ compared with 22% in the same week last year. The average weekly lamb kill at UK abattoirs continued to build through August, rising 13,000 head on the month to 267,100 head. However, relative to last year, growth in lamb slaughterings slowed further. Having risen by 10.5% year-on-year in May and June, and by6.5% in July, the monthly kill was just 1% higher in August at 1.068m head. Supplies continued to exceed year earlier levels in Scotland and Northern Ireland but were fractionally lower in England & Wales.

The average lamb carcase weighed 19.1kg at UK abattoirs during August. This was up by 0.1kg on the month and by 0.4kg on the year. As a consequence, the 1% rise in throughput converted into a 3% year-on-year rise in lamb production volumes. Scottish abattoir throughput continued to exceed last year’s levels through August with monthly lamb kill numbers, at 114,500 head, showing an annual increase of 3%. This was slower than the previous month’s 6% ncrease. Meanwhile, a 5,000 head increase took the average weekly kill to a 2014 high of 28,600 head. Carcase weights also rose seasonally. At 20kg, they reached a 4-month high and were 0.2kg higher year-on-year.

Following 7 consecutive weekly declines from mid-August up to the end of September, cull ewe prices then lifted into October as auction supplies tightened. At nearly £49 a head, the average cull ewe sold for £6 a head (14%) more than in the same week of 2013. The rate of annual decline in slaughterings of ewes and rams at UK abattoirs slowed slightly in August to 9.5% having held in double-digit territory since March. The monthly kill totalled 154,200 head. On a weekly basis, average throughput lifted seasonally to 38,600 head; the highest of the year-to-date. UK abattoir sheepmeat production was 1% higher than a year earlier during August at 24,600t. This was the fifth consecutive month of increases. Lamb accounted for 83% of the total; up from 81.5% in August 2013. Having declined throughout the first half of this year lamb consumption turned round in the four weeks to August 17.

According to Kantar Worldpanel figures, sales picked up by 20% year-on-year compared with a year-to-date-decline of 9%. While there were significant increases in sales of chops & steaks (7%), leg roasts (58%) and shoulder roasts (25%), mince sales declined by 5.5%. Whereas lower sales of mince are likely to have been influenced by its cost going up by an average of 6%, cheaper prices for chops & steaks and leg roasts are likely to have helped sales volumes. Nevertheless, a 4.5% average price increase did not put consumers off shoulder roasts. Seasonal pressure continued to bear down on heavy lamb prices across much of the EU in September. As a consequence, the EU average was 2% lower in the first week of October than it had opened the previous month, trading at €4.65/kg dwt (364p/kg).

The largest declines of 6-8% came in Holland and Romania. However, there was a more modest downwards move in France, GB, Poland, Austria and Germany. By contrast, there were increases of 1% in theIrish Republic, 3% in Spain and 4.5% in Northern Ireland (NI). The EU heavy lamb average was 2.5% lower on the year, with the declines led by Romania (-12%) and France (-8%). However, prices were 1% higher in Spain, 3.5% higher in the Republic of Ireland and up 5.5% in NI; though in sterling terms, these were all still lower.


Whereas heavy lamb prices fell back, the EU light lamb average rose 2.5% in the month to October 5, reaching €6.14/kg dwt (480p/kg). Significant gains to producers in Spain (6%) and Portugal (8%) were set against no change in Italy and 1% declines in Greece and Hungary. Though higher on the month, Spanish prices remained well down on last year (- 11%). Meanwhile, prices were 3% lower in Italy and Greece. By contrast, Hungarian and Portuguese light lamb producers saw respective annual gains of 2.5% and 7%. UK sheepmeat export volumes decreased by 9% year-on-year during July, slipping to 8,200t. With domestic production running well in advance of July 2013 levels, this meant that the export share of production fell to 28.5%, compared with 33% a year earlier.

The export trade faced an unfavourable exchange rate which meant that although average euro terms prices were down by just 1%, they were 9% lower in sterling. The largest buyer of UK sheepmeat, France, took delivery of 3,950t during July. Although this was down by a quarter from the same month last year, exports to France accounted for their highest share of total shipments since January (48%). Meanwhile, export volumes to Holland fell by a similar degree. Though also lower, trade with Belgium and Germany fell by less than the EU average of 13%. By contrast, exports to Ireland and Italy grew strongly. 8.5% more lamb was exported outside of the EU in July 2014 than 12 months before.

Of the 1,550t exported, two thirds went to Hong Kong. This meant that Hong Kong bought 4% more UK sheepmeat than a year earlier. Other prominent markets in July were Norway, Ghana, Thailand and Singapore; the first three bought around 100t while the latter took 50t. The volume of sheepmeat brought into the UK from overseas was unchanged from a year earlier in July. Volumes totalled 7,550t. However, with domestic production rising and exports falling, imports took a 27% share of the UK sheepmeat market in July, compared with 29% 12 months before. At 5,250t during July, deliveries from New Zealand (NZ) covered 70% of UK imports and were up by 7% from a year earlier. The average value was 16% higher at £4,600/t without appearing to affect trade. Having risen considerably in recent months, trade with Australia showed a more modest 3% increase to 1,250t. The average cost of this sheepmeat reached a two-year high of £4,500/t and was up by 13% on July 2013. With overall shipments flat but deliveries from Oceania rising, it meant that less sheepmeat was imported from other suppliers such as Ireland, Holland, Spain and the Falklands. However, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina all supplied more.

News Round up

Scotland’s 2014 June census showed a slightly smaller ewe flock than in 2013. Numbers were down 0.5% at 2.604m head. This was the fourth consecutive year to show a small decrease. However, the number of gimmers retained for breeding in the autumn was back 4% at 631,200 head. By contrast, there was a considerable expansion in the lamb crop. Numbers increased by 5.5% year-on-year to 3.27m head. This gives a national lambing percentage of 126%; up considerably from 119% in 2013. This saw the lamb crop nearly recover to its 2012 level. The 2014 June census reported a slight expansion in the English female breeding sheep flock. Overall numbers edged 0.3% higher on the year to 7.115m head. Within the breeding flock, the number of ewes to be used for breeding this autumn increased by 1.5% to 5.605m head, but there were 4% fewer gimmers for first-time breeding as numbers slipped to 1.062m head.

Meanwhile, marginally more ewes had been earmarked for slaughter; numbers edged up to 448,000 head. With new season lamb slaughterings running well ahead of last year’s levels this summer, it was not surprising to find that lamb numbers increased significantly, rising 6.5% to 7.936m head. Provisional June census estimates for Northern Ireland indicated that the breeding flock contracted by 3% to 889,700 head. By contrast, lamb numbers lifted by 1%, reaching 953,600 head. In August 2014, NZ abattoirs slaughtered 725,150 lambs. Though 3% below last year’s level this was nevertheless 5% ahead of the August 2012 kill. This was the second consecutive month of decline relative to last year, and taking the first eight months of 2014 as a whole, numbers were 4% lower than in the previous year at 15.1m head.

Compared to the January to August period of 2012, they were up by 4.5%. Data from NZ export abattoirs (accounting for 95% of the August kill) shows that although slaughterings ran behind last year’s level in August, the total volume of lamb produced increased by 0.5% to 13,900t as carcase weights lifted by 0.6kg, to average 20.1kg. In Australia, the average lamb skin was worth A$4 (£2.20) during July; a decline of nearly two-thirds on the year. However, Merino skins fared slightly better as prices reportedly fell 15% to A$9.40 (£5.20). During the month, Australia exported 2.6m sheep and lamb skins; 1% lower than a year earlier. This was in fact higher than the monthly abattoir throughput of 2.4m head as some of the exported skins were sold out of inventories. With 90% of the skins being sold to Chinese buyers, a significant contributor to the downturn in sheepskin prices has been enhanced environmental regulations in China.

Due to the additional costs of meeting new regulations, a number of fellmongers were forced out of business and skins have consequently been building up in Chinese warehouses, pushing down prices. Slaughter data for Uruguay shows that having fallen marginally behind year earlier levels in May, lamb throughput was significantly lower than in 2013 during June and July. The June kill was nearly 20% lower year-on-year at 63,800 head. The rate of decline then accelerated in July to 29% with kill numbers totalling 69,400 head. However, due to a strong start to the year, they remained ahead of last year’s levels for the January to July period. 667,400 lambs were slaughtered in the first 7 months of 2014; 0.5% higher thanthe year earlier total of 663,800 head.


Prices and Supplies

The GB DAPP was published for the final time in the week ending September 27. At 155.1p/kg, it was 9% below its year earlier level. Moving into October, the Standard Pig price (SPP), which closely tracked the DAPP since first published in April, increased by 0.4p/kg to 155.6p/kg dwt. This increase came despite a slight strengthening of the pound and increased numbers sold, suggesting a lift in seasonal demand. Weaner prices have followed the finished pig market lower in recent months. According to industry sources, one of the drivers has been increased numbers reaching the market due to capacity constraints caused by higher sow productivity. As October began, the market for 30kg weaners cleared below the £50 a head mark for the first time in nearly 17- months, having fallen by 6.5% on the month and by 10% since the beginning of August. Meanwhile, the market for 7kg weaners has fallen by around 1.5% on the month and by 5% since early August, as prices slipped below £38 a head in the first week of October.

UK abattoirs continued to prove well supplied with pigs in August. Slaughter numbers were nearly 1% higher than a year earlier at 775,800 head. Compared to July, the weekly average throughput fell marginally. After falling for 7 straight months, the average prime pig carcase weight increased at UK abattoirs in August to 80.3kg; a 3-month high. It was also 1.7kg heavier than 12 months before, pushing prime pigmeat production 3% higher on the year. Scottish abattoirs slaughtered 22% more prime pigs during August 2014 than twelve months before. The main reason for such a large increase was the low level of last August. Meanwhile, the weekly average kill picked up by approximately 100 head on the month to 5,800 head. Pigmeat production at UK abattoirs during July exceeded its year earlier volume by 1.5%. Although the volume of sow meat produced fell by 7%, it did not fully offset the 2% expansion of prime production. Overall output totalled 80,400t; 96% of which came from prime pigs.

GB household consumption data from Kantar Worldpanel indicates that pork sales volumes increased in the 12 weeks to August 18. The boost to sales volumes came from GB households spending slightly more money buying cheaper pork. Indeed, spending rose 1% while prices fell by 4% on average, pushing volumes up by 5% year-on-year. Sales of mince and roasting joints grew considerably due to promotional offers in supermarkets, but chops & steaks were less popular than last summer. Three consecutive weeks of sharp declines have seen the EU28 average Grade E pig price slip to its lowest level since the dioxin crisis of January 2011. In the first week of October the average fell to €1.48/kg dwt (115.5p/kg). This was down 10% on the month and 20% on the year.

While prices have fallen in line with the EU average over the past month in France, Poland and Spain, they have fallen by 12-13% in Austria, Holland, Germany and Belgium. Danish prooducers have fared slightly better with prices down by 7.5%. By contrast, UK prices have risen by 1.5% in euro terms due to a stronger sterling, making British pigmeat much less competitive at home and on the continent. With UK prices falling to a much lesser extent, the margin between the UK and EU average has widened to 32%, compared with 17% in early September and 9% this time last year. In recent years, Russian demand for EU pork tended to peak in the third quarter of the year, the loss of this key export market helps to explain the large shortfall in prices relative to last year. UK pigmeat exports exceeded year earlier levels by 10.5% in July, totalling 17,700t.

Pork shipments rose by 9.5% to 16,400t while bacon & ham shipments were up nearly a quarter at 1,300t. This meant that pork accounted for 92.5% of pigmeat exports; slightly below average for the yearto- date. Most of the UK’s main pork export markets bought higher volumes than twelve months before. The highest growth was into China and Denmark – up more than 50%, while Germany and Ireland bought around 5% more and Hong Kong 9%. Holland was the exception as shipments decreased by 27%year-on-year. July saw the highest volume of pigmeat imports so far this year. Imports were up 9% year-on-year at 53,800t. Both pork and bacon & ham were up by 9% at 31,500t and 22,200t, respectively. Imports of cured product accounted for 41.5% of the total for a second month.


A large part of the increase in pork imports came from France as shipments more than doubled year-on-year to 4,900t. Meanwhile, there were also increases of a fifth in shipments from Denmark (the largest supplier) and Spain while Belgium delivered 10% more pork. However, there was a more modest increase of 4% in imports from Holland while 15-20% less pork came in from Germany and Ireland. During July, the principle suppliers of cured pigmeat to the UK - Denmark and Holland, delivered 13% and 10% more year-on-year respectively, with shipments rising to 10,500t and 7,500t. There was a much smaller increase of 3.5% in the volume of bacon & ham imported from Germany, pushing volumes up to 2,800t.

News Round up

Feed wheat prices in North East Scotland increased at the end of September and into October.On October 8th, wheat traded at £109/t; up £8 from 2 weeks earlier but still marginally below its early September level. Meanwhile, feed barley prices have been more stable, fluctuating between £95 and £98 per tonne in recent weeks. While strong grain production at the global level has maintained downwards pressure on the market, the current price level has encouraged some additional buyers to enter the market. There have also been some worries over wheat yields in South America and Australia due to wet weather in the former and a dry period in the latter. Compared to this time last year, prices are around 25-30% lower. Continued reports of high soyabean production across the world have placed soyameal prices on a downwards trend of late.

Hi-Pro soyameal traded for £318/t on October 4th, down from £340/t in late August and at its lowest level since mid-to-late July. In the same week last year the price averaged £394/t; prices have therefore fallen by a fifth in the past 12 months. A more confident Scottish pig sector was reflected in the June census data. Indeed, the Scottish sow herd is reported to have expanded by 5% year-on-year in June 2014 to 30,200 head. However, since this followed three years of significant declines, the herd was still 22% short of its June 2010 level. In addition to an increased sow herd, there were more fattening pigs on Scottish farms than 12 months before as numbers increased 3% to 279,500 head. This was mainly down to a 16% increase in pigs weighing over 80kg liveweight; indeed, there were 1% fewer pigs between 20kg and 80kg. Meanwhile, the number of pigs under 20kg on Scottish farms rose by 2% to 88,600 head.

The English June census indicated that the sow herd contracted by 5% to 329,000 head; a loss of 17,000 sows. Meanwhile, gilt retentions reportedly fell even faster, down 7% to 70,000 head. The number of fattening pigs was 2.5% lower than a year earlier, at 3.542m head.The English June census indicated that the sow herd contracted by 5% to 329,000 head; a loss of 17,000 sows. Meanwhile, gilt retentions reportedly fell even faster, down 7% to 70,000 head. The number of fattening pigs was 2.5% lower than a year earlier, at 3.542m head. In Northern Ireland, the provisional June census results reported a 3% expansion in the country’s female breeding herd with numbers reaching 43,900 head. Within these figures the number of gilts being used for breeding was up by 4% at 6,600 head, suggesting that producers have remained in expansion mode. Meanwhile, a 10% rise in fattening pigs to 475,900 head suggests that productivity has picked up markedly and mortality has fallen back. It may also imply that fewer slaughter pigs have been exported live and/or more have been imported.Teagasc performance data for the Irish Republic’s pig sector showed an increase in productivity of around 5% between 2010 and 2013.

The number of pigs born per sow per year rose by 5.4% from 23.9 to 25.2 while the volume of meat produced per sow rose by 5.2% to 1.984t from 1.886t in 2010. The slightly lower increase in meat production was linked to increased mortality due to larger litter sizes. The average farm in the sample added 52 sows over the period, taking the average herd to 706 sows. Spanish slaughter data shows that supplies exceeded year earlier levels in June. There were 2% increases for both throughput and pigmeat production as numbers reached 3.129m head and production totalled 257,200t. Carcase weights were similar at 82kg. During the first half of 2014 (H1), slaughterings rose by 2% to 21.137m head; a 4-year high for H1. However, production volumes rose by less than 1.5%, as carcase weights averaged nearly 1kg lower at just over 83kg. During H1 2014, Denmark exported 551,200t of fresh and frozen pork. This was 2% higher than in H1 2013. Helping to increase sales volumes was a 2% decline in the average price of shipments to €2,250/t (£1,775/t). Sales revenues were up fractionally at just over €1.241bn (£980m). Exports to other EU Member States accounted for the same 72% share of shipments as they had 12 months before.

Iain Macdonald and Stuart Ashworth – October 2014

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