Hide prices rose sharply over the Easter period and up to the end of April. There were a number of reasons for this. Kills were very low due to the holiday period and also because meat processors genuinely seem to be having a terrible time.

They appear to be incurring substantial losses on every animal that they kill and they have reduced their kill as much as they can while still servicing their supermarket customers.

Furthermore, stocks of hides, particularly in Italy, have been reported to be low so Italian tanners have come into the market and, because of the way they do business, they have had to pay high prices to secure supply.

Also a lot of hides were reported to have been sold at the Hong Kong leather fair to be shipped by early May and this added to the pressure. Finally, the US dollar strengthened considerably and this was another factor that drove the market upwards.

What does this mean for the hide market in May and June? In the first week of May, the US dollar against the euro began to slide again. Irish hides were more expensive than Spanish hides and the US market fell leaving Irish hides priced uncompetitively against American hides.

As a result major buyers were offering lower prices for hides into the second week of May. German prices for May production fell by €2 and the pressure was very much on for hide prices to fall.

As a sign of changing times in Ireland, some Italian tanners came to tour the country to assess how the monumental changes in the hide business in the past 18 months might affect the flow of hides from Ireland to Italy. Has the mountain decided to come to Mohammed? We shall see.

Prices at the end of April were as follows:

36kg+ ……………… 82p (€1.22)

31-35.5k…………… 91p (€1.35)

26-30.5kg ……….. 94p (€1.40)

22-25.5kg ……… 105p (€1.56)

Cow prices remained steady, despite the low kill at £18.50 (€27.53) salted ex-yard with little prospect of any increase.

New season doubleface finally arrived in April, almost one month later than in previous years. As usual, the first loads attracted a premium price and £8.75 (€13.02) was achieved for these skins. However, sentiment quickly wore off and English skins were sold at the end of the first week in May at £7 (€10.42) which left premium Irish doubleface at £7.80 (€11.61) delivered Istanbul.

Fellmongering skins collapsed at the end of April to £3 (€4.47) ex-yard at the end of the season.