The UK market is steady with the focus now on finalising Christmas chilled leg sales. Business will be concluded in the next few weeks. Christmas chilled negotiations are also continuing in Europe. Frozen middles remain tight with prices improving. Middles continue to remain short in North America, maximising ongoing chilled opportunities for the full product range. Demand is improving in China as the market begins building inventory for Chinese New Year. Reduced supply in the Middle East is assisting in market stability and firm demand.
There is firm demand for sheep in the EU and North America, with increasing enquiries coming from the Asian region which will assist overall market fundamentals.
The focus on maximising chilled for the game season continues in Europe. The last sea freight shipments will be in early November. Demand is strong for the food service and manufacturing sectors in North America, supporting sales of the full product range. Opportunities also continue for the UK food service and manufacturing sectors.
US price indications are static so we are watching closely to see if the easing of the past few weeks continues. The large autumn cow kills are still expected to come on stream but price adjustments may already be factored into the market. Texas flooding has also had some impact on stock supply. China remains positive with good demand and prices steady. Domestic chilled demand is expected to remain low for at least another month. High Japanese tariff rates are restricting New Zealand imports.
We are now halfway through the bobby calf processing season, with most of the product for the year already contracted. Orders are split evenly between the US and Middle East. We are also capturing some additional value, mainly at our Lorneville plant, from the capture of blood serum for use by the pharmaceutical sector.
Slipe wool stocks are now quite scarce and there is some reported uplift in demand. The Shanghai Leather Fair was held recently and reasonable demand exists for wool rug selections with skin prices slightly firmer than same period a year ago. Demand for footwear sheepskins has decreased but felly grade skins appear to be trading at steady levels. US cattle hide offering volumes have increased and cow skin prices have eased five per cent in the last week. Calf skin demand remains firm.