Base prices only 5-10c/kg better than in early September
Here we are in the second week of December, and the base prices for bullocks and heifers are only 5-10c/kg better than they were in early September.
In October a lot of people predicted that numbers would contract in November and prices would go up.
Yes, prices did move up 5-10c/kg a fortnight ago, but nothing since because the numbers have not yet contracted to the point where factories are forced to compete with each other for supplies.
All of which means the majority of bullocks are on a base of €4.20, with €4.25/kg reported.
Discussions around heifer base prices appear to start at €4.20/kg but rapidly move to €4.25/kg, with €4.30/kg also in the reckoning.
For those with Angus stock, quality is key, with base prices starting from €4.20/kg for mixed loads of bullocks and heifers.
Flat prices for Angus appear to be set at €4.60/kg, but more is being hinted at for the coming weeks.
At the start of the year Bord Bia predicted the 2021 kill would be back around 90,000. Two months ago it looked liked that shortfall could run to 105,000; not now.
The latest data from the Department shows by the end of November the yearly kill at exporting plants was running 5pc or 71,801 behind last year at 1,516,883 compared to 1,588,684.
In early August that yearly difference was running at 7pc or 68,918; hence the optimism that numbers would tighten and prices might improve in November.
It didn’t happen because strong factory contracts kept prices healthy, which was attractive for those with cattle coming off grass, especially as stock throve very well and cheaply through the summer.
This led to the autumn seeing stronger-than-anticipated supplies, with recent weekly kills continuing to average around 35,500.
Fundamentally then, the surge in numbers has been balanced by demand for beef by factory customers.
There is another factor: the factories’ reliance on Angus and Hereford cattle for specific contracts.
Reduced carcase weights, particularly for Angus, are adding to the factories’ need to buy bigger numbers to get the same volume of product compared with the kill-out weights for continentals and better-made Friesians.
On the price front the majority of plants are quoting bullocks at €4.20/kg with heifers on €4.25-4.30/kg. There is more being paid to bigger suppliers with mixed loads of heifers and bullocks reported as selling on bases from €4.30-4.35/kg once the supply is constant.
Head north and those with numbers are on base prices €4.40/kg for bullocks and €4.45/kg for heifers at the Carrigan plant in Donegal, provided carcase weights don’t drop below 300kg or exceed 400kg — all of this on top of subsidised transport.
Cull cows continue to be as you were, with R grades averaging around €3.80-3.85/kg with O grade Friesians on €3.50/kg and coloured Os €3.60/kg better P grades continue on €3.40-3.50/kg.