Asian tanners forced to enter

15 December 2003

Asian tanners were forced to buy US raw materials after many had held-out hoping for prices to fall. Interest from Chinese and South Korean buyers and a 10% fall in the slaughter figures compared with last year, kept prices across most US selections stable. Heavy Texas and branded steers in particular. Overall, international demand remains weak but the US packers have been able to hold or slightly increase prices during late November and into December. Chinese footwear and tanning group Pou Chen and Feng Tay in Taiwan announced a sales increase of 4.1% compared with 2002 and Yue Yuen, a subsidiary of Pou Chen, said that sales rose by 32.6% for the first nine months of this year. Demand for hides is still present in Asia. Raw material slaughter is down by more than 10% compared with the same time last year. US Federal Inspected Slaughter averaged 613,250 hides for the four week period ending November 23. The comparative figure last year was 683,000, giving a 10.2% drop. China was once again the largest buyer of US hides taking 660,600 over the same period. South Korea was the next highest with 183,900, although they were completely out of the market for two of the four weeks. This is very unusual. Other significant buyers of wet-salted materials were Hong Kong (170,300), Taiwan (114,000), Japan (111,200), Mexico (97,600), Italy (58,600), Thailand (29,000) and Canada with 10,000 pieces. Wet-blue hide sales averaged 63,625 pieces. The main players were Hong Kong, China and Mexico. Sales dipped to 41,000 for the week ending November 16 but climbed to 82,800 in the following week. Wet-blue split sales remained around the 950,000lb level until November 16 when weekly sales dropped to 153,000lb. Industry analysts speculated that the fall was due to Chinese tax problems. However, the speculation was quashed in the following week when the Chinese returned to the market and 2,731,800lb were sold. China took 1,050,000lb of the total, followed by South Korea with 590,000lb. Other major buyers were Hong Kong, Italy, Indonesia and Colombia.

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