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Differences clear in quotes and pay

There's a big difference in the beef trade at the moment between the actual prices being paid and the quotes offered by the factories.

For example, a few plants continue to quote as low as 395c/kg base for steers, but almost all bullocks are being bought at a base of 400-405c/kg, with Donegal paying up to 418c/kg for quality assured R grades.

It is a similar story for the heifers where despite the odd 405c/kg quote, the general run on the grid is 410-415c/kg, with as high as a base of 425c/kg being negotiated last week.

This seems to be the exception rather than the norm, however, but it was still paid.

Tight supplies are helping to maintain the trade. Last week's estimated kill of 24,500 was not only under the significant number of 25,000 but also almost 6,000hd below last year's levels for the same week.

U-grade bulls are making upwards of 410c/kg, while the Rs are selling for 400-410c/kg. O grades are at 390-400c/kg. Quite a few farmers are doing flat deals for a mix of grades. Processors continue to find it difficult to deal with overweight carcasses and are anxious for finishers to move finished stock at more suitable weights.

The cull cows remain an extremely strong trade, with top quality types making as high as 390c/kg over the past week. Outside of this, the general run for U grades was 364-380c/kg, with the Rs at 350-380c/kg. O grades made 336-364c/kg, while prices being paid for P+ cows were 322-352c/kg.

The cattle trade in Britain showed little change, according to Bord Bia, as Easter promotional demand and tight supplies maintained trade. Top sides and round cuts are performing well, while steak cuts are steady.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB were steady, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg345.8p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 433c/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ended March 3.

On the Continent, there was little change to report in trade.

The gradual demand switch from forequarter cuts to hindquarter cuts is becoming more evident, which is helping to boost demand for hindquarter cuts.

In France, Irish steer hinds made €5.48-5.58/kg, while German cow hinds stand at €4.63-4.73/kg. R3 young bull prices in Italy made €4.09/kg, while O3 cows prices averaged €3.07/kg. In Germany, R3 young bull prices stood at €4/kg, with O3 cow prices at €3.32/kg.

Meanwhile, Bord Bia has launched a major new campaign to promote quality-assured grass-fed beef in Britain, focusing on an online and social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

The 'Grasstronomy Farm' campaign hopes to capitalise on traditional St Patrick's Day celebrations this Saturday, and incorporate online advertising on the BBC Good Food and Food Network websites, blogger outreach, email marketing, and an extensive social media campaign.

It has launched a Facebook app -- Challenge the Grasstronomy Chefs -- in which consumers can choose ingredients to be made into a recipe at the weekend, with daily prizes available to those who take part in the promotion.

Elsewhere, between December 2010 and December last year, the total number of cattle and calves in the UK fell 2.2pc to its lowest figure -- 9.7m -- since 2005 at this time of year.

Indo Farming