Trade Talk by Alastair Brown at Thrapston Market
26th May 2016
Sales at both our marts in Thrapston and Stratford-Upon-Avon have painted a similar picture, with prices for store cattle performing well when compared to finished prices. Store cattle numbers at Thrapston have been averaging approximately 200 - 250 every Saturday this year which commonly now starts to tail off as we get in to summer. Store cattle prices are around £100 lower and finished cattle £200 lower than this time last year. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, abattoirs are now asking for completely different specifications to what they used to - meaning many farmers are unsure about how their fattened cattle will perform, creating uncertainty within the market. Secondly, farm incomes are on the decline, with national media reporting that they're at their lowest for nearly 20 years. All this makes for quite a gloomy forecast. But I'm confident things will improve. The industry has been in situations like this before and bounced back. These things tend to go round in circles, it will just take time.
On a more positive note the sun is shining and the warmer weather will (hopefully) soon be on its way. It's already been a good lambing season for many and we'll see more of these coming forward onto the market in the coming months. At the moment we're between hogs and spring lambs. Although there's been more hoggets about the quality hasn't quite been there. Good quality lambs have been difficult to find due to the poor spring weather, so prices have remained relatively low from £65 to £100, averaging nearly £10 less than the previous year. However by the end of May - when spring lambs are in full swing - I think we should see a lift in price. Abattoirs will be able to concentrate on just that one sector and we should hopefully see prices of well in excess of 240p a kilo.