Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Desperate supplies see plants pay up to 385c/kg


Joe Healy

The beef processors appear to be as desperate for cattle this week as our presidential candidates were for votes last week. The factories, however, seem to be on a positive campaign and seem to be more interested in satisfying the farmer on price, be it flat or on the grid, and also on extras such as transport rather than attacking their competition, as was the case in the race to the Aras (apart, let it be said, from the eventual winner).

Tight supplies and processors anxious for beef is always good news for the finishers -- and the current situation is no different with quotes and prices continuing to improve.

Base quotes for the steers have now moved on to 364c/kg, with the heifers up to a minimum base of 375c/kg. Having said this, some finishers are holding out for, and getting, a base of 370c/kg for their steers, while men with heifers are bargaining for a base of as high as 385c/kg. This base results in a U+ price of €4.09/kg or €4.03 for the U= heifer.

Prices in Donegal have increased by another 6c/kg. This leaves the in-spec U-grade heifer at €4/kg, with the Rs at 392c/kg. The O+ grade is making 384c/kg, with the O= at 375c/kg. The in-spec steers are 6c/kg back from those prices in each grade, while out-of-spec stock are a further 6c/kg back, leaving the overage R-grade bullock, for example, at 380c/kg.

Farmers with good young bulls are securing prices of up to €4/kg in two or three different plants this week despite quotes of less being offered. I know of farmers who have refused €3.90/kg. The general quote for the U grades is 380-390c/kg. R-grade quotes run at 370-380c/kg, with the Os at 358-368c/kg. Farmers with a mix of Rs and Us are tending to bargain for a flat price for the mix.

U-grade cows are making 350c/kg in Donegal. The Rs are at 344c/kg. Prices for the O+ cows are up at 339c/kg, while 333c/kg is being paid for the O=.


While another few plants are close to those figures for the cull cows, the general run for the top cows is 325-336c/kg. R grades are at 322-344c/kg, with the Os making 308-339c/kg. P+ cow prices are at 302-319c/kg.

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An Bord Bia reported that the trade for cattle continued to improve last week, on the back of some further tightening in supplies combined with manufacturing and forequarter demand reportedly showing a seasonal improvement across most key markets. The best trade remains for in-spec quality-assured cattle.

The British trade remained steady due to tight supplies. Demand continues to seasonally adjust from hindquarter product to forequarter products, with trade for steak cuts reportedly showing some further downward pressure.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have firmed slightly, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg338.9p/kg deadweight (equivalent to €4.09/kg including VAT deadweight).

The trade on the Continent continued to pick up across some of the key markets, with prices reflecting this pattern.

Some retailers are still seeking to secure supplies for Christmas promotions on foot of anticipated tight availability.

In Germany, R3 young bull prices increased by 5c to €3.89/kg, while O3 cows prices were unchanged at €3.03/kg. R3 young bulls in Italy rose by 8c to €4.05/kg, while O3 cow prices fell by 4c to €2.77/kg. In France, the Irish steer hind is still averaging €5.05/kg.

The EU's short-term outlook showed that meat production grew 2.4pc last year and that, combined with strong world demand, facilitated the EU in becoming a net beef exporter again -- including live cattle -- for the first time since 2003.

Indo Farming