Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Bid to take price below €4 thwarted

Joe Healy

A rugby pundit said on Saturday evening that "we shouldn't be getting too excited" about beating the Italians. The same could be said of the beef trade this week as a number of plants that had tried to quote below the €4/kg base have now been forced back up to the even money.

This figure has to be seen as a minimum for farmers selling finished bullocks at this stage and, even at that, we will definitely not be getting overly excited. Those cattle were bought in at high prices and the costs associated with finishing them off have soared.

With last week's kill hovering just above the 26,000 mark, which incidentally is more than 4,600hd below last year's level, the farmer's bargaining power is greatly strengthened.

Factories have had to up their quotes by 5-10c/kg across the board. Some of them are keen to point out that carcasses over 410-420kg are moving into the 'too heavy' weights and are anxious for finishers to move the cattle at weights below this level.

Base quotes for steers once you come out of the deep south (where a few plants are trying to hold onto the 390-395c/kg price) are generally at 400-405c/kg. Rs are reportedly making up to 415c/kg in the northwest, while a mix of good heavy steers commanded this as a flat price elsewhere during the past week.

Similarly, the heifer quotes have moved to a range of 405-410c/kg, with a top of 415-418c/kg secured for R grades.

O-grade bulls are being quoted at 380-391c/kg. Quotes for the Rs are at 395-400c/kg but 410c/kg has been on the table for them. The U grades are making 405-412c/kg.


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Commenting on the trade, the IFA's Henry Burns said that the factories are having to pay 5-10c/kg over the quotes to get stock from very tight supplies.

He added that prices in Britain and Northern Ireland were also moving upwards.

Cow quotes have improved yet again. Several plants are willing to pay up to 370c/kg for good heavy R grades, with up to 376c/kg available for the Us. O-grade cows are making 336-364c/kg, while the P+ grades are in a range of 322-352c/kg.

The trade in Britain remained solid, according to Bord Bia, with some promotional activity helping to boost demand levels. Trade for all parts of the carcass were reportedly trading well.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB firmed, with GB R4L grade steers averaging around 343.5p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 431c/kg inclusive of VAT deadweight) for the week ended February 18.

On the Continent, the trade was relatively steady. While demand is reportedly building for cuts such as eye rounds and featherblades, the strongest demand is for forequarter cuts.

In France, Irish steer hinds are making €5.58-5.68/kg, while German cow hinds are still achieving €4.52-4.62/kg.

Indo Farming