Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Factories go in for the kill on beef prices

Factories may attempt to pull beef prices by another 5c/kg this week. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Factories may attempt to pull beef prices by another 5c/kg this week. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

LAST week we reported on the factories’ push on prices — for those of you with stock to sell you known that situation still prevails.

If anything those who make the decisions on pricing inside the factory gate were wielding the knife even more forcefully as last week went on. By the middle of the week, base prices for bullocks had been ham­mered down to €3.80/kg, while the heifer was finding it difficult to get above €3.90/kg.

Reports from some quar­ters sug­gested that by Wednesday or Thursday of this week an attempt may be made to pull those prices by another 5c/kg.

This means that those who finish cattle have now lost 5c/kg every week for the last four weeks. On carcase weights from 330-390kg that’s €66-78/hd. On the other side I don’t see the supermarket price coming down when I go shopping.

Put simply, in the year that has seen some of the most trying farming circumstances in several generations, beef factory bosses seem intent on skinning their suppliers to the bone in pursuit of profit.

Moving back to current prices, cows have also come under pressure along with everything else in recent times.

Prices quoted to me yesterday morning had R grades between €3.35 and €3.20/kg with Os hovering around the €3.10 mark, while your better P+ cow ranged from €3.00 back to €2.80/kg. These prices are ball park figures in one sense as the amount of cover verses the weight, as I’ve said before, tends to colour the factory mans thinking when he’s writing that cheque.

Prices for bulls are also coming under pressure, not from their own numbers as they have declined as they do at this time every year, but from the undercurrent of overall strong numbers.

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Yesterday prices quot­ed for U grades saw one individual at €3.90/kg while another source told me €4.00/kg was paid last week. R grades were reported as ranging from €3.85-3.90/kg with Os back at €3.70/kg.

As prices continue to slide into the mire I spoke to some who now no longer question the logic of winter finishers selling their silage to the dairy sector.

Or would it make more sense for those in the calf to store business to sell the weanling in the spring rath­er than wait to be fleeced in the mart in the autumn because the factory price isn’t good enough.

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