Beef prices are heading for €4.00/kg as demand hardens
"Say nothing, tell no one" - those were the word that echoed down many phones over the weekend and yesterday morning as factory agents closed deals that saw many hundreds of cattle being bought at prices that factories don't want publicised.
While the odd factory was still quoting as low as €3.75/kg for bullocks and €3.85/kg for heifers yesterday, there was still an acknowledgement that €3.80-3.90/kg is where the market is at.
The general run of official quotes is in the 3.80-3.90/kg bracket for bullocks and heifers but I've had reports that a minimum of 5c/kg more has been offered.
Indeed I had a report on Sunday night that a base of €4.00/kg was offered for heifers on carcases up to 350kgs.
Angus Woods of IFA confirmed that €4.00/kg was also paid for heifers above 350kg carcase weight.
"With grass cattle now gone and demand from the supermarkets for the Christmas market in full swing, factories have now no choice but to try to buy cattle from shed men," Mr Woods said
"In relation to price, can any finisher afford to take less than €4.00/kg as a minimum when selling into this market? I don't think so".
The cow trade continues steady, with R grades in and around €3.50/kg and Os on €3.30-3.20.
There appears to be a bit of a tightening within the prices being quoted for the various P grades as some of the fleshier animals at this grade move up by about 5-10c/kg, leaving Ps somewhere between €3.20 and €3.00/kg.
The trade for bulls sees R grade bases of €3.80-3.90/kg continuing to be the norm for under 16-month stock while prices for under 24-month bulls see the factories willing to give a little bit more in some cases than the traditional 10c/kg premium on Us over Rs.
Angus Woods noted that combination loads of Us and Rs were sold over the weekend at €3.95/kg flat.
Now for the real meat in the sandwich - last week's kill figure is reported as being in the area of 38,500!
Once you start to get your head around that 38,500 figure - 20-30pc above the norm - and the fact that prices actually hardened on the back of it, you begin to realise we really are in uncharted water as far as demand for Irish beef on international markets is concerned.
When numbers drop I can see a lot of winter men getting very fond of their cattle.
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