Farm Ireland

Friday 19 January 2018

Haggle, as soft sellers are being fleeced


Joe Healy

A welcome improvement -- and I'm not just referring to the Galway hurlers. The beef trade has also moved in the right direction over the past week as factories struggled to satisfy demand due to a combination of busy farmers and tight supplies of prime stock.

The one constant from last week is that the processors continue to freely pay well above what they are quoting, with some sources admitting that it is a case of "whatever it takes". There are huge variations between prices that farmers are getting if you compare the man who accepts what he is offered with the one who bargains hard.

For instance, I know of one man who sold his R and U-grade bulls in the midlands for 353c/kg and 358c/kg respectively. Another finisher got a flat price of 374c/kg for a mix of mainly Us with a few R grades included. Even if they were all Us, it is still a difference of 16c/kg, which is €64 on a 400kg carcass. The message is pretty clear -- bargain and do not be a soft seller.

Very few steers are being bought below a 355-360c/kg base this week, despite some quoting 350-355c/kg. I heard of Friesians being sold to one of the big processors in the southeast at a flat price of 355c/kg.

Quotes for the heifers range from 360-365c/kg, with prices paid in the 365-370c/kg range. R-grade heifers made 375c/kg in the midwest, while one of the Kepak's was finding it difficult to finalise a deal when it was offering 368c/kg.

Farmers with suitable heifers are thinking more along the lines of 370-375c/kg at this stage. Donegal has upped its price by 6c/kg from last week for the heifers, to 367c/kg for the Us and 358c/kg for the Rs, with the steers at 3c/kg less. The factory will also have to up its bull prices from 350c/kg for the Rs and 358c/kg for the Us to prevent bulls leaving the county for a flat 370c/kg elsewhere. The estimated kill for last week came in under the 30,000 mark at 29,630hd.

The IFA's Michael Doran said that with the scarcity of good young stock, farmers were in a position to hold out and successfully demand up to and more than 10c/kg above the quoted figures for their cattle.

The cull cow trade has risen in line with the rest of the cattle, with some farmers getting up to 319c/kg for the better, heavier lots. The P+3 cows are making 280-291c/kg and a range of 286-302c/kg is being paid for the O grades, with Donegal offering up to 314c/kg for the O+ above 320kg. Prices for the Rs run upwards from 294c/kg to, 319c/kg with the Us also up at this level.

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The cattle trade is steady, Bord Bia reports, as demand remained generally unchanged. Demand for round cuts is somewhat slower, although this has been offset by steak cuts and manufacturing beef. In particular, the trade for striploins has been helped by promotions that are currently taking place.

Cattle prices from the AHDB have risen slightly, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg 303.6p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 351c/kg including VAT dw) for the week ended June 25.

On the Continent, market demand is being hit by the holiday season, with ongoing promotions reportedly taking place across some of the key export markets in an effort to stimulate demand.

In France, Irish steer hinds rose by 10c/kg to €5.36/kg.

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