Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 21 September 2017

Factories try to pull beef prices by 5c/kg

Finishing bullocks
Finishing bullocks
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

“Steady”, “unspectacular” “busy” or “very good considering” were some of the verdicts from factory agents, farmers and cattle lorry drivers this week on where the factory trade was over the Christmas and New Year period.

The overall picture I got was that the majority of plants were busy over the holidays as retail demand stayed strong and while prices did not fall, any additional payments above €3.80 or €3.90/ kg for bullocks and heifers were “ unspectacular”.

While €3.85-3.95 was reported as having been paid in “exceptional circumstances”, the general run over Christmas was €3.80-3.90/kg for bullocks and heifers.

With the trade now resumed for its first full week of 2017, factories were reported to be quoting 5c/kg less at €3.75 and €3.85/kg. This to my mind is a “ blind” with all indications pointing to €3.80-3.90/kg remaining the base off of which deals are being done.

Friesian bullocks continue to be bought on a flat price basis at some plants, with O grades making from €3.70-3.75/kg especially where bigger numbers were available. At those prices the message is clear - fattening expensive continental stock out of sheds is not what the factories want.

While bullocks and heifers have put on between 5-10c/kg since before Christmas, the trade for bulls remains unchanged with prices ranging from €3.85/kg for Us up to 24 months, back to €3.65/kg for Os, with Rs in the middle at €3.75/kg.

Cow trade The cow trade on the other hand has strengthened somewhat. Prices I got yesterday had the P+3 grade tightening up from €2.80-3.00/kg before Christmas to €3.05/kg, while those lesser P grades moved up to that €2.80-3.00 price division.

In conclusion, the story of Christmas 2016 in the factory business was one where prices rose 5-10c/kg as factories made sure supplies kept coming.

Once the Christmas rush had subsided or the bosses had done enough to keep men with younger stock in sheds feeding, they are trying to squeeze it back. Let’s see how it plays out.

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