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Beef trade: Factories are looking to buy meat, not conformation



Photo Brian Farrell

Photo Brian Farrell

Photo Brian Farrell

There was an acceptance among those I spoke with yesterday that prices for both bullocks and heifers remain "well stuck in gear".

A reasonable explanation would be that with weekly kills continuing to float around the 36,500 mark, supplies are plentiful enough.

The general run of quotes for bullocks remains €3.60-3.65/kg, with a bit of €3.70/kg floating around the edges, while heifers are on €3.65-3.70/kg.

That €3.70/kg for bullocks seems to apply more as a flat price where numbers of "better, well-finished" Friesians are involved.

Once again it's a case of factories attempting to buy meat, as opposed to conformation, as cheaply as possible because once the price is flat there's no additional quality payment, 20c/kg under 30 months and no bonus if your animal grades above R=. Equally, you don't suffer a penalty if you fall below the grid base.

Numbers in certain areas appear to be tightening, although the trend is not widespread.

Reports over the weekend indicate that some agents in the midlands were quoting as high as €3.70-3.75/kg for U- and R-grade under-24-month bulls. Does this mean bullocks and heifers are becoming scarce or is it a case that factories are now just keener on bulls?

Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that for the last week of January the steer kill was up 41 on the same week in 2019 at 11,259, while the heifer kill was back 106 at 11,568. Not much change there.

However, the young bull kill at 5,066 is significantly reduced from 2019's 6,427.

As with those Friesians I mentioned above, it's all about getting more meat cheaply with those under-24-month bulls unlike their under-16-month counterparts not qualifying for any grid quality bonuses.

Prices for under-24-month bulls in general, however, continue to see Us in the €3.60-3.65/kg range, with Rs around €3.50-3.55/kg and good O-grades on €3.40-3.45/kg. Cow prices remain steady, with R-grades operating from €3.10-3.20/kg, Os at €3/kg or a shake more depending on finish and numbers, with your better P+ on €2.90/kg.

Turning to official factory prices for R3 steers as reported to the Department for the week ending February 2, Foyle meats in Donegal remain top of the table at 399.35c/kg, up only slightly on two weeks ago. ABP Bandon continues second at 397.26c/kg up 1.64c/kg, while Jennings in Ballinrobe jumps 3.25c/kg in third to 393.22c/kg. On the heifer side, those same Department figures also show Foyle continuing in top spot at 404.04c/kg for your R3 heifer, having added just a fifth of a cent to their overall price from the previous week.

ABP Bandon is new into the top three for heifers with their figures showing an average price of 395.92c/kg, while Kepak Clonee climb from fourth to third on 395.76c/kg.

Indo Farming