Farm Ireland

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Beef prices up by 5c/kg and more on ‘spec’ orders

Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Both factories and farmers were attempting to “feel their way” this week as regards prices and numbers.

There is little doubt that prices have hardened by about 5c/kg from last week’s base of €3.75/kg for bullocks to €3.80/kg yesterday, with heifers also pushing on from €3.85 last week to €3.90/kg at the start of the week.

That said, stock is still being bought at last week’s lower prices.

But, equally, more fancy prices above the €3.80- 3.90/kg mark are rumoured to have been paid - generally for specific orders or specs. The cow has also moved on for the second week in succession by 5c/kg, bringing increase to 10c/kg over a two week period.

Most of this increase is coming where it really matters most - the lower end of the grading spectrum, the P and O grades. O grades were quoted to me at €3.10-3.15/kg with P+3’s coming in at up to €3.05/kg, while lesser P’s have pushed up to between €2.85-3.00/kg. One agent said that although there was “a lot of activity at marts” with agents attempting to secure supplies of cows.

He said the reality was that “demand is there but they are not necessarily scarce”.

As calving season gets into full swing for dairy and suckler farmers, some will be looking for more accommodation around. Any cow line not pulling her weight is in danger of being sold. Bull prices seem a little more sticky, with southern agents not keen to move off of last week’s prices for under 16-month stock of €3.85/kg for U’s, €3.75 for R’s and €3.65 for O’s.

However, up north prices are rising across the board by 5c/kg to €3.90 for U’s, €3.80 for R’s and €3.70 for O’s. Factories looking for bulls up to 18 months are willing to pay that bit extra once they tick all the spec boxes.

Also Read

The older, up to 24-month, bull going on the grid is typically working off a base of €3.80/kg. One agent said “they are getting used up”. But how will numbers play out?

As of yesterday morning sterling had weakened by 1p against the euro from Friday’s rate of 85.5p to the euro to 86.5p and all this on the back of a speech by the British Prime Minister Theresa May at the weekend.

When you see matters such as this beginning to influence how trade is done it is probably not the time to get too fond of stock that are finished or nearly finished. Second guessing the market can be a very expensive business.

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