Scottish cattle prices still edging upwards
Prime cattle prices have continued to edge upwards over the past month and remain at historically high levels, according to Stuart Ashworth, head of economics services with Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
The Scottish steer average increased 1.5p/kg deadweight over the past four weeks while the England and Wales price has increased by 8p, most notably in the past week.
“Closer examination of prices in England and Wales shows that steers of R4L grade or better moved a more modest 3p/kg but remain 10p-12p/kg higher than the average,” said Ashworth. “In contrast in Scotland, the better-quality cattle moved at only slightly less than the overall average and remain about 3p/kg higher than the Scottish average. Nevertheless, comparing R4L grade steers, the price in Scotland is currently some 10p/kg deadweight (nearly 3%) higher than the England and Wales R4L average.”
With GB calf registrations in 2010 2.7% higher than in 2009 and calf registrations 1% higher in the first half of 2011 than the same period in 2010, there remains a strong likelihood that prime stock supplies to abattoirs will continue to improve relative to 12 months ago, said Ashworth. However, it was unclear what effect the poor summer weather on forage, cereal and straw would have on the short-term volume and quality of cattle reaching abattoirs.
“The other influence on the market is the effect of Irish supplies. As our biggest off-shore supplier, they can have a significant influence on Scottish producer prices,” he added. “Over the past week, sterling has weakened against the euro, making Irish imports more expensive. However, Irish prime cattle prices have been sliding steadily from a July seasonal peak as volumes increase, although remaining lower than last year.”
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