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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

21 November 2014

EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly 21 November 2014EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly 21 November 2014

Cattle Weekly

Further gains in the cattle trade

In week ended 15 November, the GB all prime deadweight cattle average price edged up another 2p on the week, to reach 351.9p/kg. As demand picks up ahead of Christmas, this increase in price comes despite AHDB/EBLEX estimated slaughterings indicating 600 head more prime cattle were marketed than in the previous week.


Whilst the overall GB average deadweight steer price increased 2p, steers falling within the R4L specification were up 4p on the week to 365.9p/kg. With robust demand for product fitting supermarket requirements, they are now trading at their highest point since April, although still some way behind year earlier levels. Following some weakening in October, for the second consecutive week young bull prices moved up. At 337.3p/kg R3 young bulls were 3p dearer on the week and have moved up 6p over the past three weeks. Reports suggest that pricing penalties for young bulls over 16 months are still in place and therefore bulls need to be marketed at the right time to avoid this.

The cow trade continued to ease, following last week’s modest correction. In the latest week, at 205.1p/kg, the overall average was down 3p on the week. Despite this, quality cows are still meeting robust demand from processors. At auction marts, in week ended 19 November, the price of Grade 1 cull cows was up 2p on the week at 133.5p/kg.

Calf Registrations a Fraction up in 2014 so Far

Calf registrations in the first nine months of the year are up just under 1%, or 20,500 head, on the year. While data for the first quarter gave an indication that the declining trend in beef-sired registrations wascontinuing, numbers since have been higher, compared with last year. While some increases in specific breed registrations could point to modest positivity in the beef sector, the fractional increase in overall numbers is unlikely to have any significant impact on production levels over the medium term. More details are available on the EBLEX website. UK beef and veal exports perform well in September Latest data from HMRC indicates that UK beef and veal imports in September were above year earlier levels again at 23,400 tonnes, largely on the back of a significant uplift in product from Ireland.

The unit value of Irish product continued to be cheaper year on year, down 6% to £3,530 per tonne. Shipments from the Netherlands were also up on the year, while they were lower from many of the smaller suppliers. Exports performed well again - increased production in the month meant that shipments to all the UK’s main destinations were higher. Despite the unit value of exports being back overall, the value of the export trade was still up 11% to £32.9 million.

Sheep Weekly

Following some significant strengthening over the first half of this month, in week ended 19 November, the liveweight lamb trade has shown some signs of stability. With around 140,000 lambs penned nationally this week, throughputs were relatively static on the week and, at 174.5p/kg, the SQQ was up a little over a penny. However, this does mean that for the second week in a row prices have been higher than those in the same week of last year, by around 3p/kg.

There was much more movement in the deadweight price for week ended 15 November, as the deadweight SQQ leapt 17p to 385.6p/kg. On the month, this equates to a 32p/kg increase; deadweight prices seem to be playing catch up with the strength in the liveweight trade seen in recent weeks. Despite this, the deadweight SQQ is still around 14p lower than at the same time last year. With that said, the year-on-year price gap is most definitely narrowing, having consistently hovered around 40p/kg since early August.

Difficult UK Sheep Skin Market

The majority of raw lamb skins have to be exported to the global market given the lack of tanning capacity in the EU. Within the EU, and especially the UK and Ireland, the supply of skins is at a seasonal high in the autumn months. As demand has been subdued, the sheep skin market in the UK has been much weaker this year. At around £3-£3.50 per skin in recent weeks, prices have fallen by around one half in the last year or so, with a knock on effect on sheep prices. More details of the trade is available on the EBLEX website.

Sheep Meat Imports Lower in September

Following two months when they were higher than a year earlier, UK sheep meat imports returned to the declining trend seen earlier in the year, according to latest figures from HMRC. At 4,100 tonnes, shipments during the month were back 9% on the year. This was largely a result of a 14% drop in volumes from New Zealand, although Irish and Spanish shipments were also lower. The gap was partly filled by Australian sheep meat, with a third more reaching the UK than in September 2013. Latest Australian data show a decline in September exports destined for the UK, as do New Zealand figures. This suggests that UK imports are likely to remain lower in the months ahead.

In line with the year to date, import prices remained well up on a year earlier. At £4,370 per tonne, the average price was 18% higher than in September last year. Latest HMRC export figures show a 13% year-on-year decline in sheep meat volumes. However, this includes an unlikely sharp decline in shipments to Hong Kong, which had been growing strongly. With there being no obvious reason for such a fall, the figures may be subject to revision, as has been the case for earlier months.


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