December goes out with a bang14 February 2005
Cattle Kills in Ireland finished with a bang in December and started with a whimper in January, very much in line with expectations. Tanners closed for the Christmas holiday period with enough hides bought to cover them over the January short fall and hide markets carried enough stock to fill their outstanding sales position. Some beef processors tried to hold out for higher prices in early January, based on the belief that low kill equated with a scarcity of hides. However, Tanners were covered and refused to pay higher prices so the raw market settled down fairly quickly. Wet-blue processors reported that sales in January were very sluggish indeed and were voicing the opinion that prices needed to fall to encourage Italian tanners to buy their wet-blue hides. There were one or two Italian tanners reportedly interested in spot business for 36kg+ but the fear was that if the market did move down then claims were likely to be made. Of more interest at the moment is the potential return to the international market place of cull cow hides in the UK and Northern Ireland. Currently these hides must be wet-blued in the UK and cannot be exported in the wet-salted or chilled state. The Department of Agriculture has commenced a BSE testing trial and it is hoped that by August/September 2005 meat from cows that have tested negative for BSE can enter the food chain. If this happens it is expected that the hides from these animals will be allowed to be exported and the regulations to allow this would be in place by October/November 2005. This will apply only to animals that were born after April 1996 which is when BSE was first identified. All animals born before this period will be destroyed and the hides will have to be wet-blued as before. The department estimates that there are 180,000 animals in this category and there is a suggestion that an accelerated programme would be introduced the clear this situation once and for all. It must be stressed that this is what is expected to happen at this time. Hide prices in January were as follows: 36kg + 76p 31/35.5 87p 26/30.5 90p 22/22.5 95p Fresh cull cow hides went for £14-£14.50 green in January. The market for skins is now dominated by China. Turkish tanners appear to be lying down in a dark room with no intention of coming out. Irish doubleface sold for £4 ex yard and fellmongers for £2.30 ex yard.