Farm Ireland

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Surge in national kill does little to dampen demand

Joe Healy

Beef prices might not yet have reached the height of Jedward's hair but quotes are up again by as much as 6c/kg. The real significance of this is that the processors felt obliged to do this despite an increase in the national kill of 1,500hd compared with last week.

It is an understatement to say that there is fierce competition between the plants at the moment for stock, with a few finishers reaping the benefits of being the next one in line after one plant has out-bid another for a number of cattle. There are plenty of cases around the country of 'an eye for an eye' between the plants. I'm aware of a factory's offer of 375c/kg being outbid by another offering 378c/kg for one lot of stock with the tables turned between the same two plants for another farmer's cattle. Quotes do not seem to have dropped anywhere and a number of the plants have increased their offers. While the estimated kill week-on-week was up at 29,171hd, it was still over 2,000hd down on the same week last year.

Donegal is currently paying 395c/kg and 386c/kg for the in-spec U and R-grade heifers, with the steers at 3c/kg less for each grade. Quotes and prices are every way around the country and while some are offering as low as 358c/kg for R-grade bullocks with others at 360-365c/kg, the actual prices being paid are often off a base of 365-370c/kg.

The heifers are a similar story, with 365-370c/kg being quoted as a base despite 370-380c/kg deals being negotiated. Some flat prices of 383c/kg have been got for mainly R-grade heifers and U-grade bulls, with as high as 390c/kg flat paid for heifers in the north east. A flat price of 380c/kg for good, young bulls was paid in the east. Donegal is paying 372c/kg for R-grade bulls and 380c/kg for the Us. Quotes at other plants were 347-356c/kg for the Os, 358-370c/kg for the Rs and 370-378c/kg for the Us.

The IFA's livestock chairman, Michael Doran, said that the tight supplies had factories scouring the country for stock and having to move upwards on quotes, with 390c/kg being paid for heifers and bulls.

R-grade cull cows have secured prices of 350c/kg in the north east, while a flat price of 342c/kg was also got for a mix of O and R grades up in that area. Quotes for P+ cows are around 302-308c/kg, O grades are at 308-322c/kg, with 314-336c/kg being quoted for the Rs. Quotes for the U grades are ranging from 342-350c/kg.

Bord Bia reported that strong demand for manufacturing beef and the fifth quarter was helping to drive on the trade.

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