Hides in short supply

5 March 2002

cattle kills were much lower than expected and, as a consequence, hides were in short supply throughout January which resulted in week by week price rises. Tanners were complaining bitterly about the price that they had to pay but bought whatever hides they were offered. Most confirmed an increase in wet-blue business in January but claimed that the price of raw hides had eroded all their margins. Hide prices are expected to continue to firm due to a dispute in Ireland between the renderers and the government over payment for handling render material from meat plants. The government cut the fee paid to the renderers by £25 per tonne but the renderers claimed that they could not process the material profitably at reduced levels, so they reduced their inputs, causing a fall in kills. This will, of course, be temporary and kill levels are expected to return to normal. Furthermore, last year there were no live shipments of cattle from Ireland which means that there are an extra 350,000-400,000 cattle that will mature for slaughter sometime later this year. The expectation is that this will translate into lower hide prices due to greater availability of hides. In the meantime, the market will continue to rise until kills improve. Tanners have shifted all their stocks throughout December and January and appear to be working hand to mouth and this points to February being a very interesting month in the hide business. The lesson to be learned from January is that the tanners, and hide and skin dealers, should learn that the renderers are well organised and can influence the market, while we cannot. Hide prices at the end of January were as follows: 36kg+ - 89p 31/35.5 - 99p 26/30.5 - £1.07 22/22.5 - £1.17 Low prices were also stronger. Heavy cows went for £25.50 and light cows £22.50. Skin prices stayed steady throughout January as low kills were matched by low demand. This is the time of year when skins are not as good as before Christmas and the New Zealand pickle season is being offered at fairly low prices. Also, as there is very little doubleface, our skins are competing in the fellmongering market. All in all, the expectation is that skin prices will begin to slide. Factory run skins went for £4 ex yard in Ireland and £4.50 ex yard in the UK.

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