Could an English rugby victory could get prices moving?

 

New Zealand players applaud as Owen Farrell of England leads his team off the field after the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
New Zealand players applaud as Owen Farrell of England leads his team off the field after the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Will England's presence in the Rugby World Cup final make any difference to the price of beef?

To the Irish farmer, probably not, but to those at the burger and steak production end it's a different story. Sports events are big drivers when it comes to consumption.

As you read this, retail orders are being taken not only in the UK but right across Europe on the assumption that those with an interest in the final are planning the weekend off.

If you're going to supply those hungry fans in the bars and clubs and open-air arenas on Saturday, you'd better have worked on the logistics.

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Beer sales will spike, of course, and after a rake of pints, win or lose, those watchers will need to be fed. Millions of extra burgers will be eaten.

If England actually win - and I hope they do, if for no reason other than I'm sick of having to listen to Brexit talk - the celebrations could go on for some time. Yes, the novelty will wear off, and I will quickly return to type and become desperate for the Brits to shut up about the bloody World Cup, but victory would be a lift for our neighbours, including their farming community - with knock-on effects for us.

'Lift' is not a word that extends to the factory cattle trade, however. Prices for bullocks remain stuck on €3.45-3.50/kg, with heifers on €3.55-3.60/kg.

Those higher quotes come from Liffey Meats. However, with the protest agreement reached on prices at their plants due to expire on Saturday, it will be interesting to see how the processors play their next move.

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Speaking with agents and those with stock to sell the consensus appears to be that factories are backing up cull cows in the system as they concentrate on prime stock.

They have also turned the screw on weights, with reports that some agents have been told to stop buying heavy bullocks even if they are in spec.

While weight limits here generally begin around the 420kg mark, north of the border some plants are now cutting at 380kg. Granted Carrigans in Donegal also operate a 380kg limit, but they operate a very different bonus system if your carcase is 320-380kg.

If heifer and bullock numbers tighten there is an acceptance that the tap in relation to those rising cull cow numbers will be released thus stopping bullock and heifer prices from moving too far too quickly.

Quotes for cull cows yesterday ranged from €3/kg for Rs to €2.60/kg for P+3s, with O grades on €2.70-2.80/kg. Quotes for under 16-month bulls see the R-grade base set at €3.40/kg, while under-24-month bulls saw U grades at €3.45/kg, Rs at €3.35-3.40/kg, with O grades €3.20/kg. The only chance I see for farmers to get a push on is to get what grass cattle are left moved as quickly as possible, thus giving the shed men some hope in the scrum. With European and UK prices still well ahead of here, the setting up of a proper price watchdog can't come soon enough.

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