Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

Stable demand for beef keeps steers on 450-455c/kg

Joe Healy

Farmers would be quite satisfied if those who are currently buying cattle would continue to pay the present acceptable prices.

I have often said that farmers are quite happy to get sustainable returns from the market place that cover costs and leave some profit. I accept that costs this year are difficult to quantify, but thankfully beef prices have remained strong throughout the crisis.

Quotes and prices for steers this week are generally at 450-455c/kg plus the quality assured (QA) bonus on top of this for qualifying stock.

Donegal has upped its all-in price for R grade steers ticking all the boxes and killing out under 400kg to 472c/kg.

Heifers are making 475-480c/kg around the country, with a few plants quoting as little as 470c/kg. There are rumours of base prices of more than 480c/kg being negotiated.

The best I heard for young R grade bulls under 16 months was 460c/kg, with the U grades at 472c/kg. In general, U grade bulls are making 455-460c/kg and the Rs are at 445-450c/kg. O grades are making 430-440c/kg, with 440c/kg mentioned as a flat rate for mainly O grade and some P grade Friesians.

The best cull cows are making 400-420c/kg, while P and O grades range from 350c/kg to 390c/kg.

Farmers are advised to push for same-day payment for their cattle.

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Department of Agriculture figures for the week ending May 26 show P+ steers made €4.10-4.35/kg, O grades made €4.20-4.60, R grades made €4.40-4.70 and U grades made €4.60-4.90/kg. O grade heifers for the same week made €4.50-4.80, with the Rs at €4.70-4.90 and the U grades at €4.80-5.15/kg.

P grade cow prices ran €3.50/kg to €3.70/kg. O grades made €3.70-3.90/4.00. The R/U grade prices ran at €4.00-4.20. The average recorded price for R3 grade bulls was €4.48/kg and U3 bulls was €4.58/kg.

Meanwhile, Bord Bia reported a firming of the cattle trade over the past week on the back of relatively tight cattle supplies being marketed. Best trade was for in-spec cattle. Trade is being helped by solid demand across key export markets.

Base prices quoted for R grade steers under the Quality Payment System were generally €4.45-4.55/kg, while quotes for heifers were €4.65-4.75/kg. O-grade cull cows made €3.70-3.80/kg.


To date this year, cattle supplies are running 48,900hd higher than last year. The majority of the increase is in the steer and cow category.

In the UK, trade was reportedly unchanged on previous weeks as market demand remained steady. Demand for steak and round cuts remains weak. Trade for forequarter product continues steady.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB eased slightly during the past week, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg 405.7 pence/kg dw (equivalent to 497c/kg including VAT dw) for the week ended May 25.

On the Continent, trade remained firm across most markets during the week. It was helped by ongoing tight supplies across different key export markets. Strong demand is evident for hindquarter products – with best trade for fillets and striploins – and is reportedly strengthening across some markets as temperatures remain lower than usual.

In Italy, the R3 young bull increased by 8/c to €4.11/kg including VAT, while the O3 cow made €3.26/kg. R3 young bulls in France remained unchanged at €4.06, while the O3 cow was at €3.95/kg.

Meanwhile, Chinese consumers are turning to beef in the wake of problems for both chicken and pork.

The H7N9 avian flu outbreak earlier this year cost the Chinese poultry industry €5bn through culling and a dramatic fall-off in consumption, while there is a public distrust of pork following the discovery of thousands of pig carcasses floating in a river.

Traditionally the meat of China's ethnic Muslim minorities, at 4.2kg per capita, annual consumption of beef in China is considered low by European standards. However, recent data indicated huge growth in demand for beef in recent months.

Official full-year figures for 2012 show China imported 68,000 tonnes of beef, a figure already surpassed by April this year. Importantly, figures do not reflect the considerable trade through parallel import channels based in Hong Kong.

Irish Independent