Following the stability over the holiday period, in the first full week of trading this year the cattle trade in Britain as resumed its downwards trajectory, according to AHDB.
It says that inp week ending January 9, the all prime average came back 3p on the week earlier to 331.1p/kg.
With processors’ requirements subdued as the New Year challenges in the retail environment start to impact, prices fell across the board, it says.
R4L steers were back 3p to 343.9p/kg, 30p/kg behind their level at the start of 2015. R4L heifers fared better, being back a penny on the week at 342.8p/kg.
Looking at the bigger picture, the AHDB has said that the year has started with major retailers focusing on the issue of specification, whether it be movement, weight, confirmation or age.
“This focus looks likely to be a major issue for the sector this year, presenting a challenge for producers having to cope with price penalties buyers may impose for cattle that fall outside their specification.
“While some finishers may be able to realign their systems quickly, for the majority this will take some time.
“There is no doubt that prices for cattle meeting specification consistently fair better during periods of price pressure.
“This comes as no surprise but, given that this focus could have the upper hand this year, the best prices could well be difficult to achieve for many,” it said in its latest market update.
According to the AHDB, as the trade for manufacturing beef on the continent resumes in earnest, a more realistic picture of the marketplace will emerge.
It says that in week ended January 9, trade for quality cows was reported to be remarkably strong. After increasing sharply over the New Year, prices for those meeting –O4L specification came back just a penny to 217.2p/kg.
It added that processors may well be taking the opportunity to substitute prime beef with cheaper cow beef where they are able to, which for the cow trade will underpin the market somewhat.