Overall EU market in surplus and kill increasing within UK, but... Normality would be the wrong word, but something less dramatic than crisis is now the state of the EU beef market following Russia's partial resumption of imports from Germany, domestic demand perking up in several countries and increasing numbers of cattle being absorbed by intervention and destruction schemes. For buyers within the UK this relative stability has implications for prices filtering through from Ireland and the continent, both sources looking likely to provide less abundant supply for the rest of the year than was expected just a few weeks ago. The wide array of national prices shown in the chart is, up to a point, a reflection of continuing differences between market tones in various states, due to the FMD and earlier BSE problems. However, the EC data do not compare like with like in all cases. The young bulls of Germany and Denmark, for instance, always give those countries lower reported average prices than the fine specimens from Belgium's production units. The German market overall still seems to be down by at least a third from its price level a year ago. However, Russian buying is thought to have put a floor under that trade, and in the other major producing states year-on-year price declines are now in the 5-25% range. Although the UK price is still about 18% above the EU average, reports from the wholesale market here indicate much less German bull beef available than a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, about a third of Ireland's slaughtered cattle are being diverted from the commercial market into the Purchase for Destruction Scheme (which has now absorbed nearly a quarter of a million head) and there are clear signs of a significant downtrend in the Irish kill likely to have at least some effect on supplies available to British buyers later in the year despite the problems in markets on the continent. Also worth noting is the absence of supplies in Germany from Argentina and Uruguay, due to the FMD troubles there. The broad picture is still of the overall EU market in surplus and the kill increasing within the UK But so many special factors are distorting the trade it is no longer safe to predict much easier prices at the seasonal slaughter peak later in the year. {{M/E MEAT }}