Trading conditions in the hide market remained tough throughout April and into May. Despite lower kills prices continued to fall as demand from Italy was muted. Some sellers were reluctant to sell due to the dubious practices of some buyers.

A number of European suppliers of chilled and wet-salted hides were shocked to have wet-blued hides returned to them for flay damage in the hides. This was despite the initial surveyor’s report passing the hides as being ok and then the tanners processing those hides.

In the interim, the split market fell sharply and some tanners disgraced themselves by returning the wet-blue. Since they had not paid for the hides the suppliers had no choice but to take them back. There were reports that suppliers from four countries had been treated in this way.

As a consequence some suppliers have become very selective as to whom they would offer their hides to, much to the chagrin of the agents who could see no wrong in the disgraceful behaviour of those tanners involved in this dubious practice.

The collapse in the split market was blamed on the volume of low cost crust from South America. The drop in the value of splits is estimated to have reduced the value of hides by as much as £3 per hide.

It appears that we are in for a long hot quiet summer in the hide trade in the UK and Ireland. The gap in prices between UK and Irish hides widened to 14p per kg in early May. The most likely outcome from this situation is that the UK price looks set to fall sharply as Ireland moves out of the dung season and Irish hide quality improves to be much nearer to that of UK hides.

Prices in May were as follows:

36kg+ 74p

31/35.5 82p

26/30.5 90p

22/25.5 95p

The cow market was dragged down by the low cost South American crust in the same way as the splits. Wet-salted cows were sold for £14.50.

China came into the market to scoop up the stocks of fellmongering skins that were left in warehouses in the UK and Ireland when the prices hit £2.40 per skin CIF China.

The market is keenly awaiting the new season doubleface but the days of big prices for these skins are long gone. Buyers have indicated a level of £3.50 delivered Türkiye but no deals had been done at the beginning of May.