Beef prices harden on back of British demand
Competition for quality stock sees factories hike prices by up to €40 per head
Beef prices have hardened by €20-€40/hd over the last week on the back of stronger demand in the British market and increased factory bite for stock.
However, winter finishers are reported to be scaling back operations by 20-25pc this year because of the poor outlook for returns from the sector.
While slaughter plants were still trying to buy steers at 370c/kg this week, prices have increased by 5-10c/kg and most bullocks were bought at 375c/kg, with some hitting the 380c/kg mark.
The trade for heifers was also stronger, with most stock being bought in the 385-390c/kg price range.
The lift in prices has been attributed to strong competition between factories for quality cattle, and comes despite weekly cattle kills continuing to exceed 38,000hd, and industry talk of cold stores being full of beef across Europe.
Foyle Meats in Donegal are among those that have upped the ante on prices, with a raft of top-up payments that are adding 10-15c/kg to base quotes or around €40-50/hd to farmer returns.
The company is offering a base of 385c/kg for bullocks and 390c/kg for heifers, plus a 12c/kg quality assurance (QA) bonus which is paid on all grades of qualifying animals.
However, cattle must spend the last 90 days, rather than the usual 70 days, before slaughter on a quality assured farm to qualify for the QA bonus.