Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

Sellers thwart efforts to pull prices below €4/kg

Joe Healy

There will not be any Valentine's cards exchanged between farmer and factory today as the latter continues its effort to pull the steer prices below the €4/kg mark.

Hardened sellers are holding out for, and in many cases securing, €4/kg but the processors are extremely anxious to buy at no more than 395c/kg, with quotes generally at 390-395c/kg.

Similarly, the quotes for the heifers have been dragged towards the €4/kg but prices of 405-410c/kg are being negotiated. Heifers being killed in the northwest this week have been bought at prices as high as 418c/kg. There are some returns of 415c/kg flat for R grades being reported.

The big positive for the farmer is the low weekly kill figure, with last week's estimated kill of 26,427 being some 4,100hd behind the same week last year.

The most negative vibes coming from the plants are probably in relation to the bulls. Not only have they pulled the quotes but they are also pretty critical of the large percentage of very heavy carcasses.

The top of what I heard pricewise was 405c/lkg for a mix of R and U grades. Quotes for the Us are at 400-406c/kg, with the R grades at 390-394c/kg, but prices of up to €4 are being bargained for.

Quotes for the Os vary from 375-388c/kg. One of the lower O quotes comes from Moyvalley, who has recently taken on former Dunbia man Conor Ryan, so maybe that could be a starting point for a man regarded by many farmers as tough but fair.

IFA national livestock chairman Henry Burns said factories were actively looking for steers this week and paying €4/kg to get supplies. He said steers were scarce and farmers were not prepared to part with cattle at less than a base of €4/kg. On heifers, he said factories were paying €4.05-4.10/kg, with higher prices for specialist lots.

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He added that the last Department of Agriculture reported prices on bulls for the week ending February 4 showed the average R3 grade at €4.08/kg and U3 grade at €4.17/kg. O3 grades made €3.92/kg. He said some factories were sending a negative message to their suppliers on bulls. Mr Burns said that with Bord Bia predicting cattle supplies to fall by as much as 100,000hd this year, farmers should strongly resist any negative price pressure.

Another positive for finishers is the continuing strong trade for cull cows. Good R-grade Limousin and Limousin-cross cows are commanding prices of up to 375c/kg in the east. To put this in perspective, this is the same as what some plants are offering for prime, young O-grade bulls. Overall, the good heavy R and U-grade cows are making 350-375c/kg. The Os are at 336-354c/kg, while the P+ types are unchanged at 322-342c/kg.

According to Bord Bia, there was little change in the trade in Britain with demand being matched by market supplies. Trade for steak cuts is reportedly reasonable. Demand for forequarter product and VLs continues to remain firm.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB firmed, with GB R4L grade steers averaging around 339.4p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 426c/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ending February 4.

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