Tight numbers drive on beef prices for all grades
The united line on factory prices, such a feature of the factory trade since late last year, has continued to fracture as the search by agents for fit stock has increased competition.
Quotes for bullocks yesterday morning ranged from €3.85-3.90/kg with heifers seeing €3.95-4.00/kg.
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One farmer with extensive knowledge and experience of how factories can choose to make things happen told me: "If a man with three heifers off the side of the road can get €3.90 you may be damn sure €4.00 is going, and probably a lot more if you have the numbers."
Angus Woods of IFA reckoned that €4.00/kg figure for heifers was "very achievable" and that farmers should be looking for 10-15c/kg above what agents are quoting. My own sources indicated to me over the weekend that deals are being done for both heifers and bullocks for Angus Woods extra strong base price.
Factory agents I have spoken to told me that those payments top-ups are likely to be made especially if Friesian stock are involved. The reason being; how many Friesians actually make the R grade base price? It's the factories way of buying cheaper beef while at the same time lifting the price paid for lesser conformation animals.
Add to the mix stories of factory agents "lifting" stock from previously off-limits territories and the story of Queen Maeve's foray onto the Cooley Peninsula appears to be still alive and well in 2019.
Bull prices are also on the up with under-24-month stock now seeing U grades on €3.80/kg, R grades at €3.70/kg, with O grades varying a bit from €3.60/kg in some instances back to €3.40/kg.
Prices for cows have also seen significant improvement over the last few weeks with reports yesterday that O grades now range from €3.00-3.20/kg, while better P grades are heading for €3.00/kg having already hit €2.90/kg. R grade cows are reported as making €3.30-3.40/kg.
Any suggestions that the lift in prices has offered factory buyers some relief from farmer anger, however, has proven unfounded. After months of being the bearers of bad news and suffering abuse on the frontline, some agents I'm told are now getting it in neck again as prices rise, with farmers scoffing at assurances that the factory agents will "take care of any weight or age issues" for suppliers.
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