Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 April 2018

Deals of up to 430c/kg for heifers

Joe Healy

While it was the same old story for Mayo in the league final in Croke Park, the story for beef farmers is a changed one. Thankfully it is positive as continuing tight supplies keeps the ball in the producers' court. Last week's kill of 25,900 was up on the previous week but down by 2,700hd on the corresponding week last year. To date, cattle supplies are running almost 15pc or 71,600 head below last year's levels.

Base quotes for the steers are generally at 410c/kg and while this is the actual price in most cases, also there have been prices of up to 415c/kg paid. Quite a few flat deals for a mix of R and U grades are being done as well with prices of 420c/kg reported. Heifer base quotes have moved on in general to a range of 420-425c/kg. Again, as with the steers, more is being negotiated with prices of 428-430c/kg secured. The important thing is to shop around before you sell as there are quite significant variations between plants and even between what a particular plant might be quoting and what it is prepared to pay to close a deal.

The quotes for the U grade bulls run from 415c/kg to 420c/kg with the Rs at 405-410c/kg. I also heard of flat deals ranging from 415c/kg to 430c/kg being done over the weekend. This 15c/kg difference translates into a €60/animal loss or gain on a 400kg carcase. Quotes for the O grades vary from 390c/kg to 400c/kg while the best I heard of for this grade was 405c/kg.

Trade for the cull cows remains strong. Many farmers with good numbers of well fleshed cows are bargaining for up to 400c/kg. Generally the quotes for the U grades are in the range of 380-400c/kg, with the Rs at 370-395c/kg. The O grade quotes vary from 350c/kg to 382c/kg, while the P+ cows are quoted at 342-370c/kg.

Commenting on the trade, the IFA's Henry Burns said that the scarce supplies were forcing the factories into paying a minimum of 5-10c/kg over the quoted figures and last week's prices.

The cattle trade remained unchanged according to Bord Bia, despite poorer weather conditions across many markets dampening demand for higher value cuts. Trade is being helped by ogoing tight supplies both in Ireland and export markets.

In Britain, trade for beef over the past week was reportedly steady. Firm demand continues for manufacturing product. Trade for round cuts was reportedly steady.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have eased slightly, with GB R4L grade steers averaging at Stg 346.9 pence/kg deadweight (equivalent to 426c/kg incl VAT deadweight) for the week ended April 21.

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On the continent, trade across most of markets showed little change, reflecting difficult weather conditions that continue to affect demand for steak cuts and ribs in particular. On the other hand, demand for forequarter product remained relatively firm.

In Italy, R3 young bull prices eased by 3/c to €4.11/kg, while O3 cow prices increased by 2/c to €3.03/kg. R3 young bull prices in Germany were unchanged at €3.99/kg, with O3 cow prices also increasing by 1/c to €3.38/kg.

Meanwhile, the global beef landscape continues to evolve as India is expected to overtake the top three traditional exporters of Australia, Brazil and the US in 2012 on the back of an 11pc increase in beef output. Indian beef output is being boosted by further expansion of their dairy herd, efficiency improvements and increased carcase weights. Production for 2012 is expected to total 3.5m tonnes. In the context of higher prices amongst the key global exporters, India remains relatively competitively priced, while halal production standards are also boosting exports. The USDA predict that Indian exports will increase by 25pc to 1.53m tonnes in 2012. This rate of increase is partly down to domestic demand being hampered by poor cold-chain facilities and consumer preference for non-bovine products. Indian beef exports are exclusively deboned frozen buffalo meat.

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