'Good things come to those who wait," or so they say. Well, beef finishers who waited until after Christmas to sell animals have seen prices move in the right direction by 15-25c/kg. This rise is very welcome but, at a base of 410-420c/kg, the steer price is still 60-70c/kg behind the British price at the moment. So there is still plenty of room left for upward movement.
Base quotes and prices for bullocks are generally 410-420c/kg, with lots of flat prices being negotiated. Some finishers have bargained successfully for flat deals of 425-435c/kg. Heifer quotes are 425-430c/kg, with the odd 435c/kg base quote.
Although quotes for R and U grade bulls are 410-420c/kg and 420-425c/kg respectively, flat prices for a mix of cattle are proving more common at prices of 420-426c/kg. Prices paid for mixes of O and P grade bulls are 400-405c/kg and 400-407c/kg for Os.
IFA livestock chairman Henry Burns said prices were rising daily, driven by scarcity, strong markets and an insistence by farmers that prices need to rise substantially. He added that R grade bulls had made up to 420c/kg and Us up to 430c/kg.
Moyvalley are leading the way on cull cow quotes, with an offer of 400c/kg for heavy U grade continentals. In general, Us are making 370-400c/kg and Rs are at 360-385c/kg. Quotes for O grades are at 345-360c/kg, while P grades are at 320-334c/kg.
Meanwhile, Bord Bia has reported a firming of the beef trade following the Christmas period. This is a result of tight supplies, combined with strong demand in some of the key export markets. Best trade continues to be for in-spec prime cattle supplies, in particular for heifers, which remain very tight.
Prices quoted for R grade steers under the Quality Payment System were €4.05-4.15/kg, while quotes for heifers were €4.20-4.30/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec Quality Assured stock. O-grade cull cows made €3.40-3.55/kg. Cattle supplies at export meat plants for week ending December 29 stood at 13,200 head, 1,300hd lower than the same week in 2011.
For 2012 on a year to date basis, supplies were 11pc or almost 173,000hd lower, due to tighter steer and heifer disposals.
In the UK, trade was reportedly similar to previous weeks, with demand remaining firm. Trade is also being helped by on-going tight supplies.
Reported cattle prices from the AHDB firmed during the past week. Prices for GB R4L grade steers were Stg 374.2 pence/kg deadweight (equivalent to 482c/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ended December 29.
On the Continent, trade was reportedly firm across most of the key markets, with prices reflecting this pattern. Trade is being helped by some restocking that is taking place following the festive period.