Do mart prices mirror movements in factory quotes?
While one would expect a close correlation between the two sides of the beef trade, an examination of the Ringside results over the last five years indicates that this has not always been the case.
Indeed, the Ringside figures show that price trends in the marts just occasionally reflect factory prices, and then only for heavier stock.
Take the first six months of 2013 for example. Factory base prices started the year at about €3.95/kg and by June were hitting the unheard of highs of €4.50- 4.60/kg.
However, mart prices on average only rose by 20c/kg to sit on a high of €2.23/kg in March. Yet exactly 12 months earlier in March of 2012 average mart prices across the entire steer spectrum was €2.43/ kg, with factory prices in that same period struggling to go from €4.00 to €4.10/kg.
The issue in 2013 seems to have been weather related, with poor grass growth as a result of low spring temperatures. Looking at the overall mart average price movements from 2012-2016, the range covers exactly 60c/kg, with prices varying from a low of €1.83/kg in August 2014 to a high of €2.43/kg in 2012. Yet that’s only half the story.
The reality is that when you begin to strip down the figures into individual beef breed prices things start to get interesting.
Obviously, sales prices for breeds such as the Charolais, Limousin, Belgian Blue, Aberdeen Angus and Hereford easily surpass that paid for dairy breeds such as the Friesian and Holstein.
The two strongest periods for prices in this study were from February 2012 to June 2012 and from February 2015 to July 2015, with the summer factory price spike of 2013 helping mart prices to just about match the spring surge of 2012.