Factories return to old tricks
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.