Farm Ireland

Saturday 25 November 2017

Beef prices hold steady despite high kill figures


Joe Healy

After the recent Global Irish Economic Forum, Bono described the mood as "oddly optimistic". The same could be said about beef farming because, despite the kill for last week hitting a high of 37,350hd, prices didn't suffer any negative effects.

However, with the UK market continuing to improve and Bord Bia reporting prices including VAT of up to 408c/kg for the R4L steers, what we are getting here is no more than what we should be expecting.

There was also a very positive vibe from sources at the Anuga food and beverage fair in Cologne, Germany, yesterday, where it seems beef supplies for the foreseeable future was one of the main issues being talked about. Beef supplies in most key exporting regions have tightened, particularly across South America. As a result, the combined exports of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are expected to fall by 13pc this year.


Base quotes for steers are running at 350-353c/kg, with some plants willing to pay up to 355c/kg. Heifer base quotes are at 355-360c/kg. Some farmers have negotiated 360-370c/kg for their heifers, with in-spec heifers having made up to 375c/kg.

Young bulls are generally at 364-375c/kg for U grades, with Rs at 358-370c/kg. O grades are making 342-350c/kg. Some of the plants in the south are trying hard to buy young bulls below those prices mentioned.

Prices up in Donegal have remained at last week's levels, leaving U-grade in-spec steers at 372c/kg, Rs at 364c/kg, O+ grades at 355c/kg with Os at 339c/kg. The heifers are making 3c/kg more. Out-of-spec cattle are 6c/kg less in each grade.

U and R-grade young bulls have made up to 375c/kg flat for a mix. Prices for U grades range from 364-380c/kg, with 358-370 being paid for the Rs. O-grade bulls are making 342-350c/kg.

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IFA beef chairman Michael Doran said that when account is taken of where the UK price is at the moment, there is market potential for the price of Irish beef to rise.

Good heavy U-grade cows are making up to 339c/kg. Heavy Rs are commanding 314-330c/kg. Cows grading O are ranging from 298-314c/kg, depending on carcass weight. P+ cows are at 291-311c/kg, with the higher price available in Donegal.

Again, the plants down south are trying to buy the O grades for a bit less but are willing to pay in the bracket mentioned.

Meanwhile, Bord Bia reported that the trade for cattle was mixed as supplies in the past week reached their highest level this year, reflecting the poorer weather conditions. The best trade was for in-spec Quality Assured cattle. A drop in cow prices was evident, as supplies have strengthened.

Quotes for R-grade steers under the Quality Payment System were €3.47-3.55/kg. Heifer quotes were in the region of €3.55-3.60/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec Quality Assured stock. O-grade cows made €2.94-3.05/kg.

On a year-to-date basis, cattle supplies are running 5pc lower than the same period last year.

In the UK, trade remained good across most cuts.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB remained steady, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg336.2p/kg dw (€4.08/kg dw) for the week to October 1.

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