Factories return to old tricks
Published 06/08/2014 | 02:30
It has been another slow week for the beef trade. Over the last fortnight the fall in beef prices was stemmed somewhat by the drop in the factory kill. However, factories appear to be taking a firmer line on price this week.
It's bad news for beef farmers, but we're getting used to bad news at this stage.
It has been a tough 12 months. This time last year the quoted range for steers was 410-415c/kg, with the heifers at 420-425c/kg. The best of the bulls were making 400-420c/kg.
Steers are now on 370c/kg, heifers at 370-375c/kg and it's 350-360c/kg for the good bulls with a few isolated prices of up to 380c/kg for top quality U grades.
This reflects a loss of 40-50c/kg for the steers and 50-55c/kg for the heifers, with the majority of the bulls losing out by as much as 70c/kg or more than €300/hd.
If these price cuts were not enough, the factories appear to be putting further pressure on price this week, with quotes for steers and heifers 5c/kg lower.
The word on the ground is that agents have been told to buy cattle to the quoted price and not to go above it. They appear to be getting sufficient supplies to meet demand.
The males are just making 370c/kg this week but a lot of what is being killed has been bought since last week when maybe it was a tad easier to squeeze another 5c/kg out of the trade.
It is a similar story with the heifers as 375c/kg appears to be the tops this week as opposed to 380c/kg seven days ago.
The average stock are running at 10-15c/kg back from the base quote for the younger types in most plants.
Cull cows are also a bit slower. Top quality lots are making 340-350c/kg. Prices for the Rs vary from 325-340c/kg, while the O grades are ranging from 300c/kg to 320c/kg. The P cows are making 290-300c/kg. With the kill for the year to date running in excess of 100,000hd over this time last year, the weekly kills for the remainder of this year should remain closer to last year's levels.
The better bulls are probably the only positive story. There are a few factories anxious for supply and I have heard of three different plants paying between 370c/kg and 380c/kg for numbers of top quality U grades, with up to 370c/kg paid for Rs.
In the main the range for the Us and Rs is 350-365c/kg and 340-355c/kg respectively with the O grades at 310-325c/kg.
There is very little action on the live export front. A boat sailed for Libya a few weeks ago, but weanling exports to the Continent appear to be the main focus at the moment.
Numbers remain small but good quality Belgian Blue weanling bulls were making €3/kg and over in the marts. Hopefully, the trade will remain strong through the back-end.