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Fall in beef prices as imports strengthen.

Byline: SALLY WILLIAMS Farming Editor

AN increase in the UK's supply of prime cattle and a slight uplift in imports, coupled with subdued consumer demand have resulted in a fall in beef prices, latest gures reveal.

According to the latest gures released by Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), the average deadweight price for steers during the week ending April 19 was 359p per kg - more than 30p lower than for the same period last year. Prices for heifers and young bulls have followed similar patterns.

e number of prime cattle passing through UK abattoirs during the rst quarter of 2014 was marginally up by one per cent - or 6,000 head - on last year, with most of this increase coming during March.

John Richards, industry and market information o-cer at HCC said: "e prime cattle slaughter mix continues to have increased numbers of heifers within it. is does suggest that producers are not keeping the replacements as they once did."

He said GB retail data from Kantar Worldpanel shows that purchases of beef dropped during the rst quarter of 2014.

e total volume sold was 7% lower than in the corresponding months of 2013.

In contrast, the total spent on beef purchases increased by one per cent.

"e increase in overall spend can be attributed to the fact that the average retail price increased when compared to the rst three months of 2013," said Mr Richards.

"While these gures may seem concerning, it should be noted that beef remained the strongest performing red meat at retail level, worth over half the total red meat volume sold."

" He said imports of beef into the UK also increased during therst two months of 2014 - particularly from Ireland and the Netherlands.

Mr Richards said: "e recent fall in producer prices can be explained when combining the elements of increased supply, both from home and abroad, with a reduced consumer demand.'' ' HCC recently launched its new spring and summer recipe le"ets for Welsh Beef, with recipe ideas that are ideal for the barbecue season, a time when beef sales traditionally increase.

e lea"ets are being distributed to members of the HCC Butchers' Club and will also be available at multiple retailers. Butchers will also receive promotional posters and stickers to promote Welsh Beef to their customers.

Meanwhile, HCC says a red warning has been issued for Wales' sheep farmers as the risk of Nematodirus is extremely high, according to the industry-led group Scops (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep). e Nematodirus disease a'ects lambs and is caused by the worm Nematodirus battus.

At its worst it causes a high number of mortalities while stunting the growth of survivors.

Sion Aron Jones, industry development manager at HCC, said: "A red warning means that the parasite is expected to hatch imminently. Farmers are encouraged to take immediate action so as to avoid losses.

"Scops recommend using a white (1-BZ) drench for lambs that are at risk as it is highly e'ective against the disease."

Scops anticipates an early outbreak of the disease in the UK due to the late cold spell, followed by a sudden change in the weather.

is will inevitably increase soil temperatures, triggering a mass hatch of over-wintered parasites.

Nematodirus battus has a di'erent life-cycle to other parasitic sheep worms and the infection can pass from one lamb crop to the next.

e dramatic change in temperature that Wales is currently experiencing is worrying as many of the lambs born earlier in the year start grazing the elds.

Lambs are at a greater risk if they are six to 12 weeks old, were a'ected by stress such as fostering and if they are grazing pasture that carried lambs last spring.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 29, 2014
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