ALTHOUGH prime cattle prices have cooled recently over the past month, they are expected to rise as demand for beef increases in the run up to Christmas.
Stuart Ashworth, director of economic services at Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), said: “Although we have seen cattle prices dipping 6-7p/kg deadweight (dwt) over the last month, they also dipped sharply through October last year so despite recent falls, current prices have once again moved ahead of year earlier levels to start November 2p/kg dwt higher than last year.”
The number of cattle reaching abattoirs usually climbs slowly at this time of year with the seasonal kill reaching a seasonal peak in November. Figures show that this year is following this trend and growth in supplies will have contributed to this seasonal decline in price.
“The weekly kill of prime cattle through August and September 2018 was lower than last year and despite some increase in the kill through October, supply levels are similar to last year,” said Mr Ashworth.
He added: “However, the availability of primestock in the run up to Christmas may prove to be better than last year as some slower finishing cattle come onto the market.”
Christmas buying will be under way shortly and premium beef, often with a 21 or 28-day maturation period, will need to be purchased over the next couple of weeks to meet consumer demand.
Mr Ashworth said: “Demand for beef will be expected to grow in the run up to Christmas, particularly for the most expensive roasting joints.
“Data on retail sales from Kantar Worldpanel typically show that beef sales over the Christmas and New Year period can be 2-3 per cent higher than in the month previous, while demand for roasting joints can be double.”
As a consequence, it is not unusual to see prime cattle prices to firm in mid-November before dipping away again from mid-December. A typical rise over this period during the past five years is around 2-3p/kg dwt. Last year the price climb was striking, lifting 7p/kg dwt over November as cattle numbers tightened.
Harrison & Hetherington Ltd sold 71 store heifers in St Boswells on Thursday to average 179.8p per kg and 125 store bullocks level at 186.7p.
C&D Auction Marts Ltd sold 3,953 prime lambs in Longtown on Thursday to a top of £109 per head and 263p per kg to average 168p (-2p on the week).
There were also 4408 cast sheep forward when heavy ewes sold to £154 for Texels and averaged £71.07 (-£1.59), while light/export-type ewes peaked at £67 for Lleyns and levelled at £34.37 (-£1.53). Rams sold to £142 for a Texel and averaged £65.60.
Source : HeraldScotland