July 2018 Market Overview

Beef Overview

Prices continue to increase, Cow and Prime Cattle prices continue to rise the availability is getting tight, steak Meat (sirloin, fillet, ribeye and rump) and Beef V/L’s (mince beef, Burgers) are taking the brunt of the Increases prices on these cuts have risen 25% in value, shortage in availability and high demand as the seasoning demand takes hold is the main reason for these increases, imported beef is now a more viable option from a consistency availability and price point of view, exporting as increased due to more profitable markets and the Value of the £pound.

Another week of robust cattle prices

Prime cattle throughputs dropped slightly in the most recent week, with estimated slaughtering’s standing at 31,600 head, 3% lower than in the previous week. This was also 2% below year earlier levels. With reasonable demand, the GB all-prime average strengthened by a further 1.33p on the week earlier, to average 370.26p/kg.

Steer prices drove both the overall price increase and decline in throughputs. The average price for those reaching R4L specification gained over 4p to average 384.5p/kg, as throughputs dropped back 6% week-on-week. Conversely, R4L heifers lost over a penny to stand at 381.3p/kg, and R3 young bulls recorded a more modest price decrease to stand at 365.9p/kg.

The continued upward price trend recorded over the past few weeks indicates current market conditions have been in the producer’s favour; the all-prime average has strengthened by 16p/kg in the past four months. However, stronger uplift last summer means the premium over last year’s position has started to narrow. In the past 3 weeks, the R4L differential narrowed to 10p/kg, having averaged around 14p/kg in the previous 2 months. Whether this gap continues to narrow over the coming weeks remains to be seen. However, the upwards price pressure might be expected to soften when supplies of grass finished cattle begin to pick up, unless demand can improve.

The cow trade also recorded another strong week; the overall average cow price strengthened another 3p on the week to 267.2p/kg. The increase comes against a background of increasing marketing’s, with the weekly estimate around 700 head higher than the week earlier at 10,100 head. Demand for manufacturing type beef has been good, and the associated strong cow prices have been encouraging higher throughputs throughout 2018. It is uncertain how long elevated cow slaughter can continue without impacting future production capacity for both the beef and dairy herds.

UK beef exports rise since April

The UK is a net importer of beef, with 94% of these imports coming from the EU-27. The majority of these shipments come from Ireland. Imports from Ireland grew by 6.5% in the first four months of 2018 compared with year earlier levels and totalled 65,000 tonnes, over 70% of total UK beef imports. Total imports of fresh/frozen beef totalled 91,000 tonnes (+6%). There has been a significant increase in imports from France, up 88% when compared to the same period in 2017, to total 1,200 tonnes, this trade being supported by a strong demand for manufacturing beef in the UK, although it is still a small proportion of UK imports.

UK imports of fresh/frozen beef were much the same in April 2018 compared to a year ago, totalling 21,000 tonnes. Notably, imports from Poland increased by 7% year-on-year in April, to total 1,500 tonnes following a slower first quarter. Contrastingly, in the same period fresh/frozen imports from both the Netherlands and Germany declined, by 22% (-389 tonnes) and 32% (-327 tonnes) respectively.

Total fresh/frozen beef exports in the year up to April total 38,700 tonnes (+17%). Ireland is the biggest export market for the UK, commanding over 30% of the market share of exports. In the first

four months of 2018, UK total fresh/frozen beef exports to Ireland totalled 13,500 tonnes (+33%). Industry reports suggest cattle supplies in Ireland are currently tight which could support demand for UK beef going forward.

UK exports of fresh/frozen beef for April 2018 were up 29% to total 9,300 tonnes. The UK continues to capitalise on growing consumer demand for beef in Hong Kong with exports up 90% in April 2018 compared to the previous year. Furthermore, up to April, exports to Hong Kong total 2,800 tonnes, a 22% increase year-on-year. The value of total UK fresh/frozen beef exports also increased, to total £144 million (+21%) in the first four months of 2018.

More Irish beef plants get China access

Additional Irish meat plants have been approved to export their product to China.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., announced that a further 3 Irish Chicken2beef plants and 1 pig meat plant have now been approved by the Chinese authorities and listed by CNCA, the Chinese Certification and Accreditation Agency, which is part of the recently established Chinese Agency, the State Market Regulatory Administration.

This will bring to eleven the number of Irish meat plants, excluding Cold stores, which are approved to export to China – six beef plants and five pig meat plants.

This announcement follows closely on from the beef market opening in April and directly from the Ministerial discussions during the successful Trade Mission to China lead by the Minister in May.

During this mission it was agreed these plants had met the required standard and could be registered shortly.

Minister Creed said he is very pleased that the Chinese officials in CNCA have been able to complete this part of the registration process so quickly and efficiently, despite the wide range of countries seeking beef access to China and many demands on their time.

"It is a very significant sign of the respect for our food safety systems and of the high regard in which the entire Irish meat industry, from field and farmer through to fork is held.

“This is a testament to my Department’s work on market access in pursuing and advancing market access through both a wide range of technical and official work and also through relevant diplomatic and political channels. Increasing market opportunities for our exporters is a key component of the Food Wise 2025 strategy and our response to Brexit.

When will the global sheep price rally end?

Since February the GB farm gate lamb price has been rallying, however prices on the global market started rallying over 12 months earlier. Prices in Australia were the first to move upwards in the Christmas 2016 period. Prices in New Zealand began to rally more gradually in March 2017, initially looking like a normal seasonal trend but then kept on increasing. Chinese wholesale mutton prices were next to rally from August 2017.

GB farm gate prices did not respond to the global price rally until February 2018, but in an 11 week

period from the beginning of February the GB OSL deadweight SQQ gained around 175p to reach 601.9p/kg in the week ending 14 April. Since then the GB measure has cooled but remains well above year earlier levels.

Supply on the global market has been slightly below year earlier levels, but reports suggest demand has increased, especially in China and the US, further tightening the balance. In New Zealand, many lambs were killed earlier, with much of the produced meat having already been exported rather than stored. Prices in New Zealand took a tumble in the latter months of 2017, which some speculated might signal the end of high prices on the global market, but prices turned around during quarter one to rally upwards again. The exchange rate with the euro also an effect on GB lamb farm gate prices, with the basic principle being a weaker sterling offers support, while a strong sterling adds downwards pressure.

So where may farm gate prices move from here? Lambing was difficult this year in Britain which means the lamb crop is forecast to have significantly decreased compared to last year. While this may provide some support to GB prices, a third of UK production is exported to the EU, so remaining competitive in that market there is important for the industry. GB prices recently trended above the French farm gate price for seven weeks, which is unusual as the French price has historically acted as a ceiling; the GB price is more typically around 80% of the French price. While prices in New Zealand and Australia may be supporting prices here, the French price is adding some downwards pressure. Currently the lower number of lambs now coming forwards is supporting prices, when numbers increase this too is likely to add some downwards pressure. The question probably should be, when will the number of lambs coming forwards increase?

Conditions have been good recently for finishing, with dry weather and strong grass growth although

progress has slowed in the most recent week. The dry weather may become a further hindrance in the coming weeks, with weather forecasting the dry spell to continue and the temperature to warm up. Some rain would be welcome across many parts of the country. If it does not appear the number of lambs coming forwards could continue to be suppressed. If the much need rain appears then the numbers could pick up quite quickly in the coming weeks. Industry reports also suggest some of the lambs currently being sent forwards are under finished. Correctly finished lambs, meeting target specifications of the intended market are in demand, and will help producers achieve the best prices

Pork Overview

EU Pork Prices will start to Soften Slightly due to increased slaughtering, UK Pork prices middle cuts Firm up (loins, Ribs) as the Seasonal demand increases and the export market is the preferred destination due to the value of the pound and more profitable markets (china)

Pig Prices (eu Spec)

In the week ending 16 June, the EU-spec SPP rose slightly compared to the previous week. At 150.07p/kg, the price was 0.72p/kg higher than the week before. However, the measure remains

nearly 12p/kg below year earlier levels.

GB estimated slaughtering’s lifted 2.5% week-on-week (4,100 head) to a total of 169,700 head, the highest weekly estimate since April. This estimate is also 8% above the previous year, although note this week was exceptionally low in 2017. Nonetheless, while limited supplies may have been keeping the market tight, the situation might now be showing signs of easing. Reports suggest one or two processors had ample supplies, although this may be aided by softening demand. Note over the past two months, the gap between EU and UK pig prices has averaged over 20p/kg, which could be increasing competition from imported product. Whether this will limit pig prices in the coming weeks remains to be seen.

Average carcass weights dropped again on the week, by 90g, to 82.79kg. In contrast to the previous week, this was 100g above year earlier levels. The average probe measurement, recording fat depth, also increased to 11.2, the largest since March.

The EU-spec APP increased by a more modest 0.15p/kg in the week ending 9 June, to 152.43p/kg. This was a week when the SPP fell slightly, and so this led to the price difference between the APP and the SPP widening to 3.08p.

Pig Prices (UK Spec)

In the week ending 16 June, the UK-spec SPP rose slightly compared to the previous week. At 147.37p/kg, the price was 0.70p/kg higher than the week before. However, the measure remains

nearly 12p/kg below year earlier levels.

GB estimated slaughtering’s lifted 2.5% week-on-week (4,100 head) to a total of 169,700 head, the highest weekly estimate since April. This estimate is also 8% above the previous year, although note this week was exceptionally low in 2017. Nonetheless, while limited supplies may have been keeping the market tight, the situation might now be showing signs of easing. Reports suggest one or two processors had ample supplies, although this may be aided by softening demand. Note over the past two months, the gap between EU and UK pig prices has averaged over 20p/kg, which could be increasing competition from imported product. Whether this will limit pig prices in the coming weeks remains to be seen.

Average carcass weights dropped again on the week, by 90g, to 84.30kg. The average probe measurement, recording fat depth, also increased to 11.2, the largest since March.

The UK-spec APP increased by a more modest 0.15p/kg in the week ending 9 June, to 149.70p/kg. This was a week when the SPP fell slightly, and so this led to the price difference between the APP and the SPP widening to 3.03p.

Poultry overview

Poultry prices continue to rise demand is currently outstripping availability, small birds continue to be an issue, Banned Brazilian Imports to the EU and China continue to cause a shortfall in EU Markets. UK produce prices have rose due to demand from the export market.

Poultry market update

Brazil Ministry of agriculture, livestock and food supply (mappa) has pledged to change its relationship with the European bloc following its emotive call for Europe to end a ban on poultry imports.

Brazilian Agricultural minister Blairo Maggi stated ‘’they would leave behind the reactive behaviour’’ and stated that ‘’the delisted slaughter houses still had stages to overcome before the ban could be reversed’’ he also stated that ‘’they had had numerous visits from EU representatives and they had visited several refrigerators and several farms and the impression they left us was very positive compared to a previous mission’’

Carbon Dioxide Shortages could also effect prices and availability with in the poultry sector as it is commonly used in the slaughtering and packaging process of poultry.

Slaughtering and meat packaging affected by carbon dioxide shortage

A food grade carbon dioxide (CO2) shortage is set to have a major impact on the UK meat processing and manufacturing industry.

The UK has been hardest hit by the lack of food grade liquid CO2 – with only one major producer operating.

According to the publication Gasworld the supply situation affecting the European carbon dioxide market is ‘the worst for decades’.

The ongoing heatwave in Europe and additional consumption of carbonated drinks and beers brought about by both the hot weather and the football world cup, continues to be a major contributor affecting demand for food grade liquid CO2.

Meat processing may be affected by a shortage of food grade liquid CO2.

Many users of CO2 especially UK food manufacturers and, in particular, carbonated drinks producers, are desperate for supplies of the product.

Gasworld reported that the problems were largely a consequence of at least five gas producers across northern Europe shutting down plants for maintenance during the spring and early summer months, as they prepare to focus on fertiliser output.

In addition the report confirms that other sites have suffered from breakdowns which could not have happened at a worse time, as these plants generally pick up gas production to compensate for the start of the ammonia-based fertiliser manufacturing period.

The shortage of food grade carbon dioxide directly Impacts on the meat slaughtering sector, and widely affects food processing and those products requiring gas flushed packaging.

Food trade organisations are meeting with Defra today [Tuesday] in an attempt to clarify the position and to discuss how long the shortage is likely to last.

Industry commentators believe the UK government will now have to prioritise on the supply situation, making medical use and nuclear safety its top priority. Food and meat processing will likely be in the next tier down.

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