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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

11 August 2015

AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 11 August 2015AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 11 August 2015

Cattle trade comes back again

The cattle trade seems to be cooling off at a similar speed to that which it warmed up.

In week ended 1 August, with sluggish retail demand as the holiday season got under way in earnest having an impact on processor requirements, the GB prime cattle average price came back 4p on the week earlier to 350.0p/kg. Steers meeting target specification were back 4p on the week to average 361.1p/kg, while R4L heifers were down 2p at 361.5p/kg. R3 Young bulls eased a penny to 342.1p./kg.

At 31,600 head, AHDB estimates suggest that numbers coming forward were up on the week earlier, and again ahead of the corresponding week last year. Although heifer numbers were unchanged on the week and young bull throughputs lower, 900 more steers are estimated to have come forward. There is no doubt this has taken the edge off the trade. Reports have started to suggest that waiting times, albeit only short, have begun to emerge again, especially for those processors with chill rooms adequately stocked. Despite this, with such a fine balance in the trade amid the expectation of tighter supplies ahead, a small lift in demand, barbeque influenced or not, could well still be immediately be felt in the market.

Cow prices came back again as much attention has turned to the difficulties in the dairy sector and their impact on supplies coming forward. Estimates suggest that, at 10,000 head, numbers were up on the week earlier and, for the fifth week in a row, significantly ahead on the year. Taking account of data from the British Cattle Movement Service, it looks like most of this increase can be attributed to higher number of dairy-bred cows coming forward. Consequently, and with most of mainland Europe on holiday, it is no surprise that prices have started to come under pressure. Overall, cows averaged 224.8p/kg in the latest week, back 9p on the week earlier and a notable 16p over the past three weeks.

Increases seen for the liveweight lamb trade

The lamb trade trended upwards in the past week, despite an increase in throughputs, following three successive weeks of falling prices.

In the week ended 5 August the GB SQQ was up by 13p at 157.6p/kg, just 12p below the level seen in 2014. The largest price increases have come since the start of this week, with the SQQ on Wednesday 5 August up almost 17p on the week at 160.7p/kg.

Some of the reason for this increase could be attributed to the No Lamb Week campaign that has been encouraging producers not to market lambs in the week commencing 3 August. However, in the week ended 5 August throughputs were actually up by four per cent on the previous week, suggesting overall supplies have not been affected by the campaign. This masks a country divide though, with marketings in England up seven per cent, while throughputs in Wales, where the campaign began, were down by two per cent. Despite these regional variations in throughputs, price increases were fairly similar across GB.

One potential way the campaign could have been successful is in raising the public’s awareness of British lamb, creating higher demand and increased scrutiny of sourcing. However, if this is the reason for the upwards trend seen in the trade, it will require sustained high consumer demand to maintain any price increases.

Despite there appearing to be some positivity in the liveweight trade, the deadweight trade continued to fall. In the week ended 1 August, the dw SQQ was down 12p at 327.9p/kg as numbers increased 11 per cent on the week. However, these figures are all from before the start of the No Lamb Week campaign.

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