Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Price cut attempts fail to materialise

Joe Healy

While Standard and Poor's were very definite in stripping France of its AAA rating, there are less decisive attempts being made by a few of the Irish meat processors to strip a few cents off the base quotes for steers and heifers.

As of yesterday, those attempts seemed pretty feeble. When you see one plant trying to quote a base of 405c/kg for bullocks, while another plant only a few miles away is doing a deal at 410c/kg and reports of up to 415c/kg being secured, it explains what I mean. Allied to this, last week's estimated kill of 27,700hd was 2,000hd down on the same week last year.

Base quotes seem to be 405-410c/kg for the steers, with farmers generally bargaining for and getting 410-415c/kg. The heifer quotes vary from 415c/kg to 420c/kg but prices in the main are at 420-425c/kg. If you are selling, it is worth keeping in mind that the best plant giving the best price a week or two ago may not necessarily be the best this week so shop around. They all want and need stock.

The top quotes for U-grade young bulls is 430c/kg, with the Rs making 410-420c/kg. Some deals of up to 435c/kg for good quality young bulls have been done. O-grade quotes are at 390-410c/kg.

Always seen as the good indicator, the cull cow trade has actually improved especially for the top end of stock. Heavy U grades are commanding quotes of up to 378c/kg, with prices of this amount got for a mix of heavy R grades with some Os included. Generally the Rs are at 358-364c/kg, while the O grade quotes are at 336-356c/kg. P+ cows are at 319-350c/kg.

Newly elected IFA livestock chairman Henry Burns said that factories are struggling to secure numbers of cattle from the current tight supplies and are willing to pay above the quotes.

Trade for cattle firmed last week, according to Bord Bia.

In Britain, trade was reportedly slower over the past week. Most of the slowdown in trade is linked to weakening demand for round cuts and steaks.

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Reported cattle prices from the AHDB showed little change, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg341.4p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 430c/kg including VAT deadweight). On the continent, the trade was steady across most of the key markets as consumers and retailers continued to restock. In France, Irish steer hinds are making €5.47/kg. R3 young bull prices in Italy were unchanged at €420c/kg, while O3 cow prices increased by 1/c to €2.86/kg. In Germany, R3 young bulls were making €3.92/kg, with O3 cow prices at €3.05/kg.

Meanwhile, dairy and meat exports each accounted for about 30pc of the €9bn Irish food and drink exports last year.

Ireland is the largest beef exporter in Europe and the fourth largest beef exporter in the world. While in the 1990s about half of Irish beef went to non-EU countries such as the Gulf states, 98pc now goes on to the shelves of European shops.

Indo Farming