Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Steady trade but supplies down 15pc

Joe Healy

WHILE the trade continues nicely, many beef finishers were probably hoping that at least part of the Eucharistic Congress mass at Croke Park last Sunday was devoted to praying for prices to continue improving to cover restocking costs. Most farmers believe they had no choice but to buy expensive stock or else leave the farm idle.

Some prayers must have been said since the positive movement has continued with all categories a tad stronger than this day last week. Supplies, or lack of them, are the biggest factor. Last week's estimated kill of 23,660hd was 6,300 less than last year with the year-to-date figure showing a drop of approximately 111,000 hd. This is the equivalent of a 15pc drop or almost five weeks of the present kill figure.

Steer quotes have strengthened to a base range of 420-425c/kg this week with R grade in-spec bullocks making 432c/kg in Donegal. Base quotes and prices for the heifers range from 430-435c/kg in general. In-spec heifers up to 320kg in the northeast are making up to 440c/kg while in the northwest the Rs are at 438c/kg with the U grades at 450c/kg.

The best I heard for young bulls was 430c/kg for a mix of R and U grades. In the main, the quotes and prices for the Us range from 425-432c/kg with the R grades at 420-425c/kg. O grades are slightly firmer this week at 405-410c/kg with Donegal on 414c/kg.

While the oldest manager was not performing too well at the Euros in Poland, the older cattle in the form of the cull cows have been doing the opposite and, along with the bulls, have definitely firmed. Quotes and prices for the U grades run from 390-400c/kg. The Rs are making from 370-400c/kg while a range of 360-382c/kg is on offer for the O grades. P+ cows are generally between 350-370c/kg.

IFA livestock chairman, Henry Burns said that prices have continued to harden with tight supplies forcing the factories to pay well above their quotes in order to secure adequate numbers. He urged all farmers selling to ensure they maximized the value of their stock.

Bord Bia reported that the cattle trade remained firm last week for in-spec prime beef supplies, whereas demand for cows eased. Trade for prime beef continued to be helped by on-going tight supplies. The competitiveness of Irish beef exports continues to be helped by favourable exchange rate movement between Sterling and the euro.

Quotes for R grade steers under the Quality Payment System were making from between €4.12-4.20/kg. Heifers were being quoted at between €4.22-4.30/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec Quality Assured stock. Cow prices eased slightly with O grade animals making between €3.53-3.64/kg.

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In Britain, the beef trade is steady but trade for both round cuts and steak cuts is flat. The best demand shown throughout the week was for forequarter cuts and VLs.

The competitiveness of Irish beef exports continues to be helped by favourable exchange rate movement between sterling and the euro.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB are steady with GB R4L grade steers averaging at 342.6p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 444c/kg incl VAT) for the week ended June 9.

On the Continent, trade across most of the key markets shows little change. Demand continues to seasonally improve for steak cuts while demand for round and forequarter cuts remains somewhat quieter.

In France, Irish steer hinds are making around €5.79/kg. R3 young bulls in Germany are up 1/c to €3.97/kg, with O3 cows increasing by 3/c to €3.49/kg.

In Italy, R3 young bulls are up 3/c to €4.12/kg, while O3 cows remain unchanged at €3.22/kg.

Meanwhile, household purchases of beef in the UK during the latest 12 week period ending May 13 fell by almost 5pc to 66,300 tonnes.

The beef category is being influenced by lower levels of promotions as the average price of beef rose by 12pc to £6.92/kg.

Indo Farming