Heifer quotes have finally hit €4.30/kg. I had heard it was paid but all the early calls yesterday to sellers and buyers were only returning base figures of €4.25/kg to me. One factory agent even quoted me as low as €4.20/kg but I told him that tomorrow was the day for trying to fool people. However, I then got the €4.30/kg from a few places even if sellers admitted that it took a lot of work and bargaining to achieve it.
The bottom line, however, is that factories are very anxious for stock with most of them keen to get the cattle brought in for slaughter as soon as the deal is done.
This is despite the estimated weekly kill for last week creeping back up over the 30,000hd mark at 30,941hd. However, this is some 2,500hd behind last year.
Base quotes for the steers remain around the €4.15/kg but prices of up to €4.20/kg are being negotiated. A flat price for good bulls of €4.25/kg has also been paid in a few places.
In the main the U grades are selling for €4.20-4.25/kg, with the Rs moving at €4.10-4.20/kg. Prices for the O grades are generally at €3.90-4.00/kg.
Just keep an eye on age and also make sure you find out if there is a cut-off weight before you sell. Finishers selling are also getting deals on transport.
In Britain, reported cattle prices from the AHDB have firmed with GB R4L grade steers averaging at Stg366.2p/kg deadweight (equivalent to €5.32/kg inclusive of VAT dw).
Trade was reported as continuing to remain stable, with the strength of the sterling having an impact on the trade.
In France the market remains steady with promotions centred on steak cuts and diced beef. The R3 young bull price was down 1c to €3.93/kg including VAT and the O3 cow price was up 5c to €3.31/kg. Some rise in demand was reported in Italy which led to an increase in prices. The R3 young bull price was at €4.09/kg and the O3 cow price was up 7c to €2.84/kg including VAT.
Meanwhile, speaking at the culmination of Bord Bia's Marketplace event in Dublin's Convention Centre, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, said that China will probably be a bigger market for Irish beef exports than the US.
He expects beef producers here to be selling into China by the autumn following the lifting of the ban last month.
"We are now the only European beef exporter with access to the US and China. This gives the industry a major first mover advantage on our rivals," Minister Coveney said.
We are already exporting €40m worth of cattle skins to China and Minister Coveney has suggested that China could take 20,000t of beef per year which would be worth €100m.
The next stage in the process, Mr Coveney said, will involve Chinese officials coming to Ireland to inspect individual meat plants.
This is expected to take place over the summer before the Minister Coveney leads a delegation to China in late October or November to copper-fasten the re-opening of the market.
Elsewhere, despite the possible gains in other agricultural sectors, early estimations point to a potential loss of output from the Irish beef sector at €25-50m from an increase in EU imports of American beef if current proposals on a trade deal between the US and Europe were accepted.