Kills in Ireland have been on the high side during January with numbers killed varying between 34/36,000 per week.

Leather orders are not plentiful, and salted prices have slipped gently through January into February.

Yet green prices at the factory gate in Ireland have risen by about €3 and, in England, the expected fall in factory price has been put on temporary hold. What on earth is going on?

In Ireland, it is the old combination of €40, maintaining market share and putting the boot into your competition. This is causing the situation where hide prices are wrong by anything up to €5.

Rumours are that the two tanners in the Republic want to prevent a hide trader returning to the salted business handling the percentage that he had handled in the past.

There was also pressure brought to bear on those plants that had decided to salt and market their own hides to try and abandon a salting policy and return to selling out green.

Some think that those who are bidding and paying the high price are trying to close down their opposition. Such foolhardy tactics!

All that this achieves is to prove to the plants that they are right to switch to salting themselves.

No one can continually pay more for the hides than they are worth and sooner or later someone, either in Ireland, or abroad, is going to take a look at the bottom line and take action.

Meanwhile, in England, where these practices have been tried in the past, and largely abandoned as uneconomical, hide traders have felt unable to bring back prices in line with the market.

This is because so many plants in England are Irish-owned, or have access to accurate information from the Irish plants.

This has resulted in calls from English hide traders to Irish hide traders to catch themselves on.

The abattoirs, of course, know what is going on, and can hardly believe their good luck. Their only question is, how long can we keep them at it?

Salted prices ex yard at the end of January were as follows:





The low kill entered its seasonal decline at the end of January, but the processors had good stocks of salted cows so the slight lift anticipated in February did not happen. By March, the Iraq war may have started and, if so, the market is expected to fall.

Prices for cows were: heavy cows £24.50; light cows £21.50, salted ex yard.

Lambskins continued to be a poor market for both doubleface and fellmongering hoggets. The fair in Istanbul was subdued and buyers were thin on the ground.

The price for doubleface was £4.50 ex yard and fellmongers went for £3.75.