Beef prices start to move - with further rises on the way

Photo: Gerry Mooney
Photo: Gerry Mooney
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Factory prices are on the rise. Bullocks were reported as selling over the weekend generally for €3.75-3.85/kg, with some sellers unwilling to discuss anything below €3.90/kg.

Factory prices for heifers appear to be €3.85-3.95/kg, with €4.00/kg the figure at the back of every man's mind.

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While those top-end prices are some way off for the majority of sellers, there is a strong feeling that these levels will be reached.

Those better prices appear to be more prevalent in the north midlands and the west, where agents for Foyle Meats (Carrigans) were reported as being active last week.

There has also been a welcome lift in the price being paid for bulls, with sources yesterday quoting under-24-month U-grade bulls at €3.70-3.75/kg with Rs €3.60-3.65/kg.

The base price for under-16-month bulls was €3.75-3.80/kg.

For those who have held stock in anticipation of a price lift, the relaxation of weight limits is probably as big a selling point as the price.

Cull cow prices were also on the move yesterday, with R grades €3.10-3.25. While some factory buyers were clinging to prices for O grade cows in the €2.80-2.90/kg range, up to €3.05/kg was paid by certain plants for better Os.

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Better P grades were yesterday being quoted up to €2.90/kg. When numbers begin to tighten as they did last week, better prices can be found, especially when the seller has nicely fleshed animals that tick all the factories' boxes.

While last week's kill was 30,440, allowing for the fact that it was a four-day working week due to the Monday bank holiday, this week's kill figure will tell the real tale.

Meanwhile, the Department has replied to Denis Naughton's Dail question about why grading machines classify only one side of a carcase.

"While it is technically possible to grade both sides of a carcase, in the development of the existing system prior to 2002/03, the German manufacturer, in consultation with the German Meat Research Institute, found that the difference between grading two sides versus one side was statistically insignificant," it said.

Accurate

Given that the machines are licensed on the basis that they are expected to be only 60pc accurate to begin with, "statistically insignificant" sounds an awful lot like, "We didn't actually think you'd ask"

An EU report on the short-term agricultural outlook for the spring shows that during 2018 EU beef cow numbers declined by 100,000 head with the decline in dairy cow numbers across the EU in 2018 reckoned to be 375,000.

As a result, EU beef production is expected to decline by 1.3 per cent during 2019. This is due to lower cow numbers in key beef-producing countries such as France, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark and the UK.

Production in Ireland, however, is forecast to remain firm.

Indo Farming