UK cattle prices continue to strengthen

The average UK cattle price continued its upward trajectory during the week ending September 24, the AHDB (the body for English beef and lamb) has confirmed.

Reports suggest that booking queues for all types of cattle are still non-existent, particularly across England and Wales.

However, while the heat in the market is no doubt being stoked by solid demand for native bred cattle fitting specific supermarket schemes, some stability seemed to creep into other areas of the trade.

Unlike for much of the past few weeks, not all classes of prime cattle increased in price compared with the week earlier.

While the British all prime indicator was up a penny at 354.7p/kg (413c/kg), this was fueled by notably higher steer prices only, particularly for those being slaughtered in the north of England.

Overall, steers moved up 2p/kg on the week to 357.0p/kg (420c/kg) while those meeting R4L specification were up almost 7p/kg at 374.6p/kg (440c/kg).

The most significant trend to develop last week was the sizeable gap emerging for cattle fitting this specification between the different regions of Britain.

In the northern region of England, having moved up 15p/kg on the week R4L steers averaged 382.3p/kg (449c/kg).

This brought them almost on par with prices being achieved across the border in Scotland and around 25p ahead of R4 steer averages in the other regions of GB, where prices were generally more stable.

AHDB is also reporting that the global beef price is showing signs of some upturn after the steady decline from the end 2014 through to the early part of this year.

The three-month moving average export price started to increase in March through to June this year. This evolution largely reflects some changes starting to take place in the global supply/demand balance.

Despite this, however, at US$5,072 per tonne (€4514)  the chilled and frozen price based on the three leading exporters of Brazil, the United States and Australia in the second quarter of 2016 is still down 7% on the year although it is up 2% on the first quarter of the year.

Yet compared with the fourth quarter of 2014, when the global market was at its peak, it was as much as 15% less.

For the three exporters, volumes in the second quarter of 2016 were down 5% on a year earlier.

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