Farm Ireland

Saturday 16 December 2017

Why there has been 10 weeks of straight beef price rises in Britain

Photo: Roger Jones.
Photo: Roger Jones.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

This week the British prime deadweight cattle price recorded its 10th consecutive weekly price gain.

Industry body AHDB says the measure ended the week at 357.93p/kg (412c/kg) 1.37p higher than last week and nearly 39p (44c) higher than a year ago at the same time.

Prices for steers meeting R4L specification rose 1.3p to 369.5p/kg (425c/kg), but it was young bulls and heifers which contributed most to the gains, with R4Ls rising 2.8p and 2.9p respectively.

R4L young bulls were 353.9p/kg (407c/kg) and R4L heifers averaged 369.8p/kg (425c/kg).

The AHDB says recent weeks have been characterised by strong demand for more commercial animals, and have seen particularly strong prices in the cattle meeting lower specifications than R4L.

“Of course, not all processors have that as their base specification for pricing purposes, but this price action is an indication that such animals have been in particular demand.

“However, the latest prices would indicate that trend has not carried through into last week,” it says.

Meanwhile, Bord Bia says positive gains seen in Britian over recent weeks are on the back of stronger demand and an ease in supplies.

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Slaughterings in Britain, for the week ending 3 June, which contained a bank holiday, fell back, although there were reports of some abattoirs remaining open and 32,200 prime animals were killed.

Based on a four-day week this would represent a higher throughput rate than the previous week, which saw 36,000 head slaughtered.

Cow numbers were down too, to 8,200, but again potentially at a higher daily rate than the week before.

The trade in store cattle in England and Wales has been buoyant. In the year to date, nearly 200,000 cattle of 12, 18 and 24 months of age have gone through auction markets as stores, 4.5pc higher than during the same period last year for these age groups, the AHDB says.

Trade has been particularly good for the more native breeds; auction markets have seen numbers of Hereford crosses increase by 18pc compared with Jan-May 2016.

Dairy types have seen numbers increase too, by nearly 11pc.

In overall terms, as to be expected, the store trade is dominated by continental crosses, which although throughput increased by a more modest 2%, still made up 60% of total trade.

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