Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Quotes stuck at €4/kg for steers

Joe Healy

The beef trade is wobbly this week and, if factory sources are to be believed, prospects for the remainder of the week give as little cause for optimism to beef finishers as Ireland's showdown against the All Blacks on Sunday gives to rugby supporters.

With the kill running at more than 32,000hd per week, the ball is firmly in the processors' court. We are currently only getting in cents/kg what British farmers are getting in pence/kg. This is keeping the gap for similar steers at close to €1/kg or €400 on a 400kg carcase when allowances are made for VAT.

Quotes and prices for steers are stuck at the €4/kg, while heifer quotes remain at 410c/kg. Farmers are finding it easier to get a bit more for the heifers, with prices of 415c/kg being secured but it takes work to achieve this.

If you are selling, ensure you are clear on maximum weight and what cuts are to be had if your animal kills out over this weight, as a number of plants now seem to be operating a cut off point of 420kg with a 10c/kg price cut above this.


Young bulls are not escaping either. However, I did hear of a mix of O and R grades under two years old and killing out less than 320kg, making €4/kg flat to travel south from the northwest to two different plants.

In the main, plants are trying to buy O grades at 375-390c/kg with the Rs at a range of 390-400c/kg. Most are quoting 400c/kg for U grades but some of them have paid up to 410c/kg. While there are no great differences, it is still worthwhile to shop around and bargain hard.

Quotes and prices for cull cows have fallen by around 10c/kg. The best cows are now making 350-370c/kg. Prices for R grades range from a low of 320c/kg up to a top price of 360-365c/kg. O grades are moving at 310-325c/kg, while 290-310c/kg is being paid for most P grades.

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IFA livestock chairman Henry Burns accused processors of undermining the industry at a critical time when most farmers expected positive movement as buying for the Christmas trade kicks in.

He urged all the processors to pass on a better share of the market price to farmers if they wanted finishers to continue to supply cattle throughout the expensive feeding period.

Meanwhile, Bord Bia reported the beef trade remained steady last week with tight supplies in key export markets helping to maintain the trade.

Base quotes under the Quality Payment System were €4.00-4.05/kg for steers and €4.10-4.15/kg for heifers. The trade for cull cows was steady, with quotes for O grades at €3.25-3.40/kg.

For the year to date, cattle throughput is running more than 8pc higher than last year's levels, with steers and cows accounting for most of this increase.

In Britain, trade remained somewhat sluggish. Demand for steak cuts remains slower than usual as the mild weather continues to have some impact. Prices from the AHDB eased again this week, with the GB R4L steer at 397.9p/kg (equivalent to €5/kg including VAT) for the week ending November 9.


On the Continent, demand for forequarter cuts continued to strengthen. Best demand reported was for chucks and featherblades. There have been some reports that demand is starting to build for premium cuts such as fillets in the build up to Christmas trade across some key export markets.

In France, the R3 young bull increased by one 1c to €4.02/kg inclusive of VAT, while the 03 cow price also decreased by 3/c to €3.59/kg. The R3 young bull price in Italy increased by 3/c to €4.28/kg incl VAT, while the 03 cow price fell by 3/c to €2.83/kg.

Earlier this month, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) lifted its ban on the importation of beef to the US. This ban on the importation of beef from the EU had been in place since 1997 and Ireland is now gearing up for this new multimillion market.

Department of Agriculture officials are working on new veterinary requirements. The first stage is in the completion of a self-reporting tool (SRT), which is run by the US Department of Agriculture and Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Ireland has now completed this stage of the operation and the document has been submitted to the US authorities. It is understood no product can be exported to the US until the USDA completes its analysis of the SRT and finalises certification arrangements for Ireland.

The US is a key market for Ireland in the agri-food sector. It is the fourth most important country destination for exports. Exports of agri-food and beverages to the US were valued at €518m in 2012, having grown from €406m in 2010 to €478m in 2011, a 28pc rise in two years.

Ireland imported €192m in agricultural products from US in 2012, comprising animal foodstuffs at €99m, €28m in food preparations, €15m in live animals, €13m in fruit and vegetables and €11.6m in beverages.

Irish Independent