Hide prices continued to fall during June and were widely expected to fall further into July, but at the end of June the fall suddenly stopped and in the first week in July there was a small increase in prices.

There were a number of reasons for this: Firstly, raw hide prices in Ireland were considered to have fallen too far, too fast; secondly, the dollar improved against the euro, coming from 0.84 to 0.87 by the fourth of July; and thirdly, kills everywhere were very low.

However, in some quarters, this is considered to be a dead cat bounce because no hides will be shipped to Italy from the middle of July until the end of August.

The UK tanners are also all closing for their annual summer holidays, so demand for hides will definitely be lower.

Tanners are insistent that they cannot get better prices for their production in the marketplace and that any price increases are unwarranted.

Furthermore, kills are expected to rise considerably towards the end of August and a good back end kill is expected. This will slow down any increase in prices.

Cows have been very scarce but the prices have also fallen, with no lift as seen with steers and bulls.

With the ending of the SARS crisis we may well see renewed interest from China for cows from worldwide sources prices could benefit from the trickle down effect.

Prices for hides at the end of June were as follows:

36kg+ ………………………….… 80p

31/35.5kg …………………..….. 90p

26/30.5kg …………………..….. 93p

22/25.5kg …………………….. £1.00

Cull cows on the run went for £24.50.

The new season doubleface lambskin business is now in full swing with high prices paid to the abattoirs and, in turn, good prices achieved from the Turkish market.

The gap in prices for Irish skins and UK has come back again, as the better quality and bigger Irish skins opened up a 50p differential over UK skins.

Kills have been low and are expected to stay low as a consequence of foot and mouth a couple of years ago and, as a result, skin salters are chasing product and margins are very tight.

Usually at this time of the year, salters can achieve a reasonable margin but the biggest producer in Ireland has been quoted as saying that he would be lucky to ‘wash his face’ this year because margins are so tight.

Irish doubleface went for £8.20 Türkiye and English went for £7.70. However, there is resistance from the Turks.