AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
07 April 2015
Subdued cattle trade persists
In week ended 28 March, the deadweight cattle trade continued to ease back.
Prime cattle prices fell across the board, R4L steer and heifer averages were both back 4p on the week earlier at 359.5p/kg and 358.4p/kg respectively.
Young bull prices came also came back notably, those meeting R3 specification were down 6p on the week at 334.9p/kg.
Consequently, the GB all prime average was back almost 3p at 350.4p/kg and has now come back nearly 8p over the past three weeks.
The pressure on price again this week comes despite estimates suggesting that throughputs were lower than in the week earlier and actually at their lowest weekly level all year.
However, with carcase weights remaining higher than last year, production levels are less affected than the lower numbers would suggest.
It is clear that Easter has delivered no tangible impetus to the domestic beef sector at farmgate level, most probably against a backdrop of robust competition in the retail environment.
The current strength of sterling has kept Irish beef an attractive proposition for some retailers, while New Zealand chilled lamb has been heavily promoted in the UK in the lead up to Easter, given plentiful supplies at favourable prices.
Variable lamb trade as Easter approached
The old season trade at GB auction marts eased again in week ended 1 April, with the SQQ back 4p on the week earlier at 192.7p/kg.
Relatively subdued demand ahead of Easter has kept the trade generally weak for this period of the season.
Despite this overall position, there was some variance through the week. On Thursday 26 March, with throughputs back 10% on the week, the SQQ eased 10p to average 192.8p.kg.
As producers responded to lower prices, numbers tightened considerably as the week progressed, which gave the trade a modest degree of support.
By Wednesday 1 April, with throughputs down about a third on the week, the SQQ was actually up 6p on the week at 195.4p/kg.
With New Zealand lamb already on the shelves, any last minute demand for Easter needs to be filled by home produced product and it is possible that this has given the trade a welcome impetus on the run in to the holiday weekend.
New season lambs are starting to come forward in increasing numbers. Throughputs in the week were more than double that of the week earlier at 4,800 head.
Despite this, the NSL trade has held up well ahead of Easter and, at 263.8p/kg, the GB NSL SQQ was up 23p on the week.
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