High prices, low kills

23 May 2002

Hide prices continued to rise slowly throughout March due to comparatively low kills, much to the disappointment of tanners the length and breadth of Europe. Many producers reduced soaks but that did not have the desired effect in bringing down prices. Slaughterhouses have also experienced a torrid time and sellers of green hides were selling hides with a hunger. At the beginning of April, the realisation seemed to be dawning upon tanners that the expected fall in prices was just not going to happen in the short term making life difficult for hide traders in Ireland. However, we are hit by the tanners who are feeling the pain badly, turning their attention to meticulous examination of every hide, weighing every gram of excess salt and dung, and then either claiming or demanding immediate replacement due to their short stock position. Pity the poor hide dealer attempting to eke out a living in these circumstances. Of course we do not suffer this combination of factors too often, but coming so soon after FMD and the European BSE problems. Ireland is leading the way in iceing and chilling hides in the British Isles. Some European hide dealers have been doing this for years but now Irish dealers have invested in plant and equipment and are delivering top quality hides, iced and chilled, with improved area yield allied to a superior grain, on a regular basis. Much credit for this progress must go to the largest tanners in the UK who have actively encouraged this development. They have once again proven to take a long view in the business. Buyers an iced or chilled hide knows that there can never be any mixing of hand flayed or other origin material. This also helps maintain the quality of iced and chilled hides. Not every hide can be iced or chilled, but perhaps the majority will be one day. Prices for hides were as follows: * 36kg - 94p ($1.34) * 31/35.5 - £1.05 ($1.50) * 26/30.5 - £1.14 ($1.63) * 22/25.5 - £1.20 ($1.72) Heavy cows were £26 ($37) and light cows £23 ($33). Lambskin business stayed steady throughout March with only a marginal business in doubleface and the bulk of activity being run selection. Everyone is waiting for the new season doubleface to arrive and expectations are that prices will be high. However, no one will sell ahead in case of making a mistake. Old season skins went for £4.10 ($5.9) ex yard.

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