Low kill, scarce demand

29 November 2004

The hide market stumbled through August restricted by low kill allied to scarce demand. Kills were so low that the lift in prices experienced in July carried on into August. From a hide yard perspective, an extra worry was the weight of cattle being killed. While weights are traditionally low, this year the weights have been lower than usual. Furthermore, although we were expecting the numbers killed to start rising in mid-August, the increase did not materialise. Slaughterhouses claim that demand for beef has been low and they tried to bring down the price of cattle paid to the farmer to help stimulate sales. Indeed, when one plant in the west of Ireland dropped their buying price, the Irish farmers staged a protest outside the gates and prevented all slaughtering of cattle for four days. This resulted in kills staying low as farmers held out for better prices. However, the fields are full of cattle, the rain has started to fall and the first week of September has seen the initial increases in kill begin. On the hide front, the Shanghai fair again proved pivotal in assessing the mood in the marketplace. The Chinese tanners appeared to have played their hand to perfection. American sellers came to the fair full of optimism and with plenty of hides to sell. European hide sellers also went to Shanghai with plenty to sell and were offering at lower prices. Both groups of sellers went home with most of the hides unsold. The Chinese tanners chose to stand back and wait as they realised that they had the upper hand. However, looking at the market, hide prices are ready for a fall. Prices of Irish hides at the end of August were: 36kg+ ....................... 80p ($1.44) 31/35.5kg ................. 91p ($1.64) 26/30.5kg .................. 94p($1.69) 22/25.5kg .............. £1.00 ($1.80) The cow market remained steady, even on rising kill and cows went for £16.50 ($29.72) per hide green. Turkish doubleface tanners also struggled, and the famed August 15 deadline for starting business with Russia came and went. Prices rose in anticipation and fell on realisation. At the end of August/early September, doubleface went for £6.50 ($11.71) delivered Türkiye and fellmongers went for £3.70 ($6.66) ex yard.

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