Farmers are 'broken' - Hopes for beef price bounce washed away by flood of cattle
Air of despondency among farmers as factories claim fridges are full and dry cow prices drop €180/hd
The chances of a pre-Christmas bounce in beef prices evaporated this week, with the factories continuing to face a flood of cattle.
Factory sources predict that the kill will breach the 40,000-head mark for the fourth week in a row by Friday, with little sign of an easing in supplies.
Bullock and heifer prices held at the low levels of the last few weeks, but the cow trade has taken a hit from the increased numbers, with quotes back 10c/kg.
Prices for in-spec prime cattle held at €3.75/kg for bullocks, with heifers 10c/kg above this at €3.85/kg.
However, quotes for R-grade cull cows have fallen to the €3.00/kg mark, with O grades on €2.80 and those grading P+3 at €2.60-2.80/kg.
This represents a fall in cow returns of €130-150/hd over the last six weeks. This downturn has also been reflected in the marts, where dry cow prices are back €140-180/hd.
Farmers report little appetite for cows from factory buyers. The word being put about is that fridges are full and the trade for manufacturing beef is slow. This was confirmed by Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland (MII).
"The combination of strong beef output across Europe, coupled with higher EU beef imports, up 14pc this year, and a fall in EU beef exports has put pressure on market returns," Mr Healy said. "Stock levels being held by the industry are rising, reflecting the poorer demand out there.