AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
21 November 2014
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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