AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
16 September 2014
Prices stabilise after throughputs fall
In week ended 10 September, liveweight lamb prices continued to follow a ‘normal’ seasonal pattern and eased on the week. The average GB SQQ for the period was back 5p on the week to average 152.3p/kg. Numbers at GB auction markets were tighter, being back over a quarter on the notably higher throughputs of the week earlier. It is possible that, with the arrival of the breeding sale season, producers’ focus may have switched to marketing breeding sheep. Despite the GB NSL SQQ being down on the week overall, prices did demonstrate stability in some areas. Whilst the majority of auction market daily averages showed a drop in prices, some centres, where numbers were tighter, recorded higher prices.
Despite the recent weakening of sterling against the euro it appears that it has not been enough to improve demand on the continent. As the autumn weather arrives and with the approaching festival of Eid el Adha offering some support to prices, it is possible that the downwards pressure of recent weeks could be alleviated to some extent. However, the extent of this will, in the main, depend on consumer demand.
Fewer cull ewes forward supported the trade somewhat, with the average in the latest week unchanged on a week earlier at £54.60 per head.
The deadweight trade for week ended 6 September was still showing the general downwards trend of the time. Consequently, the SQQ was down 5p on the week at 369.5p/kg. This takes the deadweight SQQ to its lowest point since February 2013.
UK exports fall as imports remain steady
Following the considerable increase in sheep meat exports in June, the latest data from HMRC indicates that in July UK sheep meat exports were back 9% on the year at 8,200 tonnes. This decline was entirely due to a fall in the trade to other EU markets which had performed particularly well the month before. Shipments to other member states were back 12% on the year, largely due to a 1,300 tonne, or 25%, year on year decline in exports to France, as trade to Ireland and Italy strengthened. Despite this drop, fresh/chilled cuts to France still performed well, being up 75% on the year and accounting for over 20% of all trade to France. In July last year fresh/chilled cuts accounted for less than 10% of the product mix to France. Increased trade to Hong Kong helped cushion the EU decline to a limited extent, being up 4% to over 1,000 tonnes.
With the lower export volume, the total value of UK exports for July was down by 18% on the year, at £30.4 million, as the average unit value of exports fell 10%.
Imports in July were almost unchanged on the year, at 7,500 tonnes, as increased shipments from New Zealand were offset by reduced volumes from other countries. With a tighter global market so far this year, the average unit value of shipments has been consistently higher than year earlier levels. For July, the average value was 19% higher on the year at £4,400 per tonne.
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