Farm Ireland

Monday 22 January 2018

Factories back to 302c/kg base

Joe Healy

US President Barack Obama told the people of New Orleans over the weekend that the treatment they got from the US government during and after Hurricane Katrina was shameful -- but promised that the future would see things improve.

Irish beef finishers could write a book on this type of treatment. And, as to the future, it is difficult to see the processor being as nice to the farmer as Colin Montgomerie has been to Pádraig Harrington by picking him as a wild card for this year's Ryder Cup.

Base quotes have been pulled again by 3-6c/kg throughout the country. While I don't have a kill estimate for the past week, all indications are that it remained strong, with quite a few of the plants reportedly pretty full for the rest of this week. At current quotes and indeed the prices for most of the year so far, it is little wonder that many farmers are questioning the merits of continuing with the practice of finishing cattle. Some top producers are now going the suckler route and targeting the live export trade for the weanlings.

"If we can maintain our export markets and supply a right good type of suitable animal, then it is a no-brainer," one such farmer said to me. I couldn't disagree with him.

Most of the plants are back to a base quote of 302-303c/kg for the steers today, with a range of 308-314c/kg being offered for the heifers. If farmers are prepared to shop around and bargain, it should be possible to get 305-308c/kg for the bullocks.

Farmers with heifers are reluctant to take less than 314c/kg. The quotes and prices mentioned involve some of the AIBP, Dawn and Kepak plants as well as Dunbia, Duleek, Slaney, Kildare and Moyvalley. Some of the plants in the south might be proving to be a bit stickier than further north.

When you get to the top of the country, you will hit the better prices. Donegal Meats has remained at last week's levels, which sees them paying 333c/kg for the in-spec U grades, 325c/kg for the Rs, 308c/kg for the O+ cattle and 300c/kg for the plainer Os. The out-of-spec stock is running at 11c/kg behind those prices. Donegal is also top for the young bulls, with the in-spec Us making 322c/kg and the Rs at 314c/kg. Out-of-spec bulls are 6c/kg less in each grade.

Kepak Clonee is probably next in line with their quote of 319c/kg for the Us and 308c/kg for the Rs. Liffey is offering 314c/kg and 308c/kg for the U and R grades respectively. Elsewhere, the quotes for the Us range from 314c/kg back to 308c/kg, while the Rs vary from 308-302c/kg. O grades are being quoted at 286-294c/kg. Down south, and south-east farmers were said to have got 325c/kg flat for a mix of R and U grades, with up to 330c/kg paid for Us.

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The IFA's Michael Doran said that, despite the negative vibes coming from the factories and their agents, steers are up to 308c/kg with a range of 314-320c/kg being achieved for tight supplies of heifers. He added that, with the holidays ending and schools reopening, demand for beef should strengthen again.

Tops for cull cows also appear to be up in the northwest where Donegal is paying 280c/kg for O+ cows killing out at over 320kg. Moyvalley and Kepak Clonee are quoting 241-252c/kg, with a top of 263c/kg available from Moyvalley. Liffey is offering 235-246c/kg, depending on carcass weights, but reports suggest that more can be achieved from them. Dunbia paid 274c/kg for heavy R grades and 263c/kg for O+ cows.

The trade in Britain was steady with some seasonal switching from steak cuts to roasting and forequarter cuts. Reported cattle prices increased slightly, with GB R4L steers averaging 331c/kg.

On the continent, the beef trade remained steady with prices reflecting this pattern, as demand held up well across most key markets during the week. In Germany, R3 young bull prices remain unchanged at 317c/kg. R3 young bull prices in Italy increased by 5/c to 369c/kg, while O3 cow prices remain unchanged at 264c/kg.

Irish Independent