Young bulls ease cattle price hikes, latest data indicates

Falling young bull prices diluted cattle price hikes in the week ending (w/e) 17 September, according to AHDB Beef & Lamb.

Despite the upwards movement in the trade in recent weeks, encouraging producers to market cattle, prices moved up again over the course of that week, the trade body reported.

The GB all prime average strengthened just over a penny on the week earlier to average 354.0p/kg, it said. However, while overall the uplift was slightly less aggressive than it was for much of the past three months, it was entirely as a result of young bull prices easing.

There is still no doubt that competition from processors is a feature of the market, waiting lists are non-existent for both scheme and commercial cattle as processors seek to meet their retail orders and maintain their cold room stocks, said AHDB Beef & Lamb.

Average R4L steer and heifer values both moved up another 2p on the week at 367.9p/kg and 367.6p/kg. In contrast, R3 young bulls eased back 3p to average 345.0p/kg.

Giving some evidence to the robustness in the market, latest consumer intelligence from Kantar Worldpanel indicates that over the summer the retail environment has performed relatively well. However, while beef and veal purchases as a whole are up in volume terms they are fairly steady in value terms, due to price cuts and the challenging performance of roasting joints. Nevertheless, volume and value sales of stewing cuts and mince grew, perhaps helped by the lower prices.

The cow trade eased this week, the overall cow average came back 3p on the week to 210.6p/kg. While those meeting -O4L specification were down a penny at 238.9p/kg.

Despite this, given the fall in the value of sterling, price competitiveness of UK cow beef in euro markets is still going to offer support to the market. As always, cows with better confirmation and finish will most likely fair better than the plainer types.

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