Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 25 February 2018

Cows hold firm while prices for steers, heifers and bulls jump

Joe Healy

Ballydoyle may have had two big wins with Camelot and St Nicholas Abbey at Epsom over the weekend but it's probably fair to say that the past week brought three successes to the beef trade with steers, heifers and bulls all strengthening in price.

Rumours of a drop in cow price have failed to dampen the atmosphere on the basis that they remain rumours.

The plainer cow is showing a bit of a reduction as far as the quotes are concerned but the O+, R and U are all holding firm. Prime cattle supplies remain tight with plants under a lot of pressure to satisfy their demands.

A 5c/kg increase to the steer trade sees the general run of base quotes and prices at 415-420c/kg. In-spec R grade bullocks continue to command up to 432c/kg in the northwest with the Us making 444c/kg.

Those grades in the heifers are at 438c/kg and 450c/kg respectively. Elsewhere, the general base quote for the heifers runs from 425-430c/kg with some farmers negotiating base prices of up to 435c/kg.

The best I heard for bulls was 430c/kg flat for a mix of R and U grades under 430kg deadweight and less than 24 months in the east.

Quotewise, the Us are ranging from 425-432c/kg with the Rs at 415-425c/kg. O grade quotes run from 400-414c/kg. IFA livestock chairman, Henry Burns said that with the European Championships starting this week and the ongoing buying of product for the Olympics, the factories have to raise their prices to secure adequate supplies of beef.

The R and U grade cows seem to be holding on to the recent strong quotes but there is a pretty plain attempt being made to pull the lesser grades by a number of plants. Quotes for the P+ types are in the 350-370c/kg bracket with the O grades ranging from 360-382c/kg.

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R grades are being quoted from 380-390c/kg while 390-400c/kg appears to be the run for the Us.

The cattle trade was mixed last week, according to Bord Bia, with the firm trade for prime beef offset by lower demand for cow supplies.

Trade for prime beef continued to be helped by on-going tight supplies both in Ireland and key export markets combined with the euro remaining weak against the pound.

Demand is anticipated to improve in the key markets over the coming weeks in response to the participation of key countries in the European soccer championships.

Quotes for R grade steers under the Quality Payment System were making from €4.10-4.15/kg. Heifers are still being quoted at €4.20-4.25/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec quality assured stock. However, cow prices have slipped, with O grade animals now typically making from €3.58-3.67/kg.

To date, cattle supplies are running 15pc or 93,900 head below last year's levels.

In the UK, the beef trade was still reportedly steady. Trade for roundcuts has seasonally slowed down, while demand for forequarter cuts and VL's continue to be buoyant for the barbeque season.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB are steady with GB R4L grade steers averaging at 342.6p/kg dw (equivalent to 450c/kg incl VAT) for the week ended May 26.

On the continent, trade across most of the key markets remained steady.

Demand continues to seasonally improve for steak cuts reflecting the recent improvement in weather conditions combined with price promotions that are occurring across most of the key markets.

Demand for round cuts and forequarter cuts remains quiet.

In France, Irish steer hinds are making from €5.79-5.89/kg. R3 young bulls in Germany are up 1/c to €3.93/kg, with O3 cows increasing by 3/c to €3.45/kg.

In Italy, R3 young bulls are up 10/c to €4.07/kg, while O3 cows are unchanged at €3.18/kg.

Meanwhile, the FAO expect global meat output to increase by nearly 2pc in 2012 to 302m tonnes, reflecting increased poultry and pig meat production across developing regions of the world.

This is expected to lead to greater competition for export markets. Global beef production is expected to remain unchanged from the previous two years at 67.5 million tonnes, with growth in developing countries offset by lower production in developed countries.

The global beef trade is anticipated to increase by 4pc to 8.1m tonnes, driven by higher import requirements in the US and EU. Shipments to Russia may is expected to increase due to lower domestic output combined with an increase in import quota of reduced-tariff beef.

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