Ferrous scrap merchants have reported price increases over the last few weeks, up to £20 per tonne for some categories. However, most operators that MRW spoke to said that trade was still generally quiet and that the increase in prices had not necessarily brought in more material.
Most merchants said that prices had gone up by around £10 per tonne on average, with some putting the increase down to a weak pound boosting the export market, while others suggested that it was a move to attract greater amounts of material.
One merchant in the north west said: “We’re paying £40-50 for light iron now and around £75-80 for heavy OA, that’s a bit more than this time last month,” the merchant said. “It’s partly to do with the pound, and a bit more movement on the buying side. But trade in general is still hand to mouth.”
Another merchant said that they were paying £40-50 for light iron, the same as the previous month, although the price they were paying for OA had gone up a little to £70-80. And they noted that customers were becoming increasingly price conscious.
“Everyone is ringing up for the price and then saying ‘I’ll let you know’, it’s a lottery,” the merchant said.
One operator in the Midlands reported a £10 per tonne price increase. “It’s because of a lack of material, the higher prices are trying to tempt people in because there’s not that much about.”
Despite the higher prices trade was still slow, the merchant reported, and continued to be difficult to predict.
“I don’t know what’s normal now,” the merchant said. “Ten years ago I’d say that in November everyone would be at full speed, but now I don’t know. People are very savvy about prices now. You’ve got to give the best price and you have to give the best service.”
In the south of England, Scotland and Wales, most merchants also reported price increases.
A few merchants that MRW spoke to said that although prices paid by some merchants had increased, they had not increased what they were paying.
One merchant said: “It’s [trade] bad and I can’t see it getting any better. Everyone is paying too much for material. We’re paying the same as last month, just trying to make some money.”
Another in Wales was wary of further price fluctuations and was still concerned about the instability of the market.
“We’re quite busy and it seems to be moving in the right direction, but we don’t want to get a lot of stock in and then it [the price] goes down again.”
MRW spoke to 14 merchants for this report