Meat processors try to maximise on hide prices17 June 2002
We are currently living in very difficult times. Beef sales are slow and meat processors are finding it impossible to make any kind of a margin in their business. Consequently they are forced to try and maximise on their hide prices, but the wet-blue sector is very much in the same boat. Some wet-blue producers in the UK have cut right back on their production as it appears that Italy has little appetite for any wet-blue from outside its own country. Normally Italy buys in wet-blue to supplement their own production but at present they have no need to do this. The result is that wet-blue producers are being squeezed. They need to obtain hides at a much lower price to get any interest from the Italian tanners. The situation has persisted for some time but clearly could not continue indefinitely. Early May saw the first falling prices but the feeling conveyed by the tanners is that prices have to come back further. However, hides are still scarce on the continent and some quarters believe that the scope for further significant falls is limited. We will just have to wait and see. Prices for hides in early May were as follows: * 36kg+ - 95p * 31/35.5 - £1.04 * 26/30.5 - £1.09 * 22/25.5 - £1.15 Heavy cows were £26 and light cows £23. The cow market appears to be operating independently from the steer market as it has remained steady for some months. It did not rise in March and April and, therefore, did not fall in May. Overall, cow prices have been low because many cows go into the nappa market and clothing leather has been slow for quite some time. This is a market that is expected to stay weak. New season lambskins have started to appear in increasing numbers and the market in doubleface has started at last. The size and quality of the new season skins is very good. This year and probably due to the late start in the season, 100% doubleface new season lambskins went for £7.20 ex yard. However, it was felt that this may be the top price for these skins because the Turkish tanners could not afford to pay any more. Some suppliers were speculating that perhaps the Turkish tanners would try to 'keep a lid on' the prices. Fellmongering skin prices continued to languish due to poor end of season quality allied to a lack of demand. Skins were sold at £3.30 ex yard in Ireland.