Trade Talk - April 2015

22nd April 2015

Barren cow trade remains remarkably buoyant at present considering how the clean beef trade has gone over the last few months and the strength of the pound against the Euro which is having a direct effect on our exports. Crystal balls aside and looking at the key factors going forward with supply tightening as a direct consequence of reducing suckler herds and dairy cow turn out demand for cheaper processing cuts and niche market influence all fuelling the trade at present through livestock markets.

Several of the larger cow markets throughout the Country all reporting price increases over the last month up ten pence to twenty pence a kilo and throughput numbers similar to last year which tends to contradict slaughter statistics. Why are livestock markets bucking the trend? Well possibly due to three key factors. One - cows tend not be a uniformed commodity with a vast range in weights and grades and through the live market firms can procure a level group of either meated cows or plain cows all within their majority specification. Two - similar theme to one being the broad section of buyers all looking for different types of animals with younger, leaner cows being purchased for further feeding, niche export requirements for the extreme pedigree cows, young meated cows for wholesalers and processing influence for cheaper manufacturing meat. Three - creating critical mass by farmers at the market with vendors able to take two or twenty-two cows in one load and not all of the same specification, knowing there will be buyers for all shapes and grades and not having to fit rigid direct specifications.

Talking to firms, processing meat seems a lot easier to sell than prime beef especially the choice high value cuts and this is possibly a direct consequence of consumers buying habits. Hence going forward the cull cow market looks in a strong position.