Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Beef trade: Quotes for bullocks stay rooted at last week’s level

Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

LAST week I described the upward movement in beef prices as having turned decidedly “sluggish” since breaking through the €4.00/kg barrier for bullocks.

Base quotes last week ran from €4.00-4.05/kg for bullocks and they remain firmly rooted to those prices it appears for the early part of this week also. Admittedly, the heifer had surged on to between 10- 15c/kg ahead of the bullocks onto a base of €4.10-4.15/ kg, with reports of €4.20 secured in some deals last week.

But there seems to be a feeling that despite numbers continuing below the 30,000 mark — 28,990 for the week ending April 22 — numbers of bullocks are not falling away quickly enough to maintain upward momentum.

The figure for bullocks slaughtered for the week ending April 22 is 11,259 — 940 more than the same week last year. Figures for heifers and bulls show less killed than the same week in 2016 at 8,220 for heifers (down 361) and 2,823 for bulls, (down 651).

While bullocks out of sheds may not be drying up fast enough, the real factor holding back their price is the fact that the overall kill of cows is up a staggering 11.5pc at 104,020, compared to 93,251 for 2016.

When it comes to the real nitty-gritty of the beef business, what matters to the factories and the consumer is quality assurance and cows, like your top class bull, bullock or heifer, have it except at a lower cost price.

Moving away from the overall financial model and onto a look at the detail of where prices are in terms of geography, there does appear to be a bit of a rift developing between factories in the north, west and midlands and those based further south.

Some of those in the south are clinging doggedly to quoting a base of €4.00/ kg for bullocks with heifers at €4.10/kg, while €4.05/ kg is the general quote for bullocks further north with €4.15/kg being the generally accepted base for heifers.


As shed cattle eventually run out, the accepted line in the sand for the first of the cattle coming off of grass will be €4.00/kg.

However the reality for some with contracts to fill is as I’ve said before dependent on the national average base prices which this week for contract heifers will sees prices as high as €4.26/ kg being paid with 6-10c/kg bonuses on top.

At those prices it’s obvious to see that someone has to be getting turned over. The price for bulls sees quotes as low as €4.00/ kg for Us back to €3.80 for Os with Rs on €3.90 being offered by some in the south while further north the price for under 16 month bulls is 5-10c/kg stronger at €4.05-4.10/kg for Us and Rs with €4.10/kg flat having been offered for heavier over sixteen month stock.

The cull cow she remains strong at prices from €3.50- 3.70 for Rs back to a flat €3.40/kg or a shade better for Os and Ps.


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