€95/head wiped off base steers since July

Beef cattle prices have come under increased pressure in recent weeks and 25c/kg (405c/kg versus 380c/kg) has been wiped off steer quotes since July 24.

Over that period, base steers on the Quality Price System (QPS) recorded an average carcass weight of 378kg. And, when the factory quote cuts are factored into the equation, it means that base steers have dropped by almost €95/head since July 24.

A similar story can also be seen with heifer quotes. Over the past four weeks, heifer quotes have declined by 25c/kg (415c/kg versus 390c/kg). At an average carcass weight of 315kg, that’s a fall of almost €79/head.

What are factories quoting this week?

There is a wide range in what factories are offering this week; some have opted to maintain steer quotes at last week’s level of 380c/kg, while others have dropped steers back to 375c/kg.

This is also the case for heifers. Some southerly plants are still working off a base price of 390c/kg, while others are working off 385c/kg.

Despite the slight ease in prime cattle quotes, cows remain relatively stable and most buyers are offering 310c/kg to secure P-grade animals and 340-350c/kg is available for well-fleshed, R-grade cows. Click here for a detailed breakdown of prices

Cattle supplies

The number of cattle processed in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants jumped by 3,288 head or 10.5% during the week ending August 20, when compared to the previous week.

This came as factories returned to a five-day kill after the bank holiday break during the week ending August 13.

Official figures show that all categories of cattle increased during the third week of August. Steer throughput climbed by 7.4%, heifer numbers rose by 647 and the cow kill jumped by a massive 15.9% on week earlier levels.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending August 20):
  • Young bulls: 2,473 head (+477 head or +23.8%);
  • Bulls: 655 head (+102 head or +18.4%);
  • Steers: 16,178 head (+1,111 head or +7.4%);
  • Cows: 6,909 head (+948 head or +15.9%);
  • Heifers: 8,276 head (+647 head or +8.5%);
  • Total: 34,516 head (+3,288 head or +10.5%).

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British beef trade remained relatively steady last week. This occurred as supply and demand remained finely balanced.

Prices from the AHDB show that British R4L steers made the equivalent of 415.08c/kg, while British and Northern Irish R3 heifers made the equivalent of 423c/kg and 411c/kg respectively.

Moving to France, Bord Bia says the market was quiet last week on the back of the holiday season. However, it’s hoped that demand will rise as restaurants and schools reopen over the next week.

Bord Bia also reports that there is a plentiful supply of domestic beef on the market and promotions are taking place on French-origin burgers and mince.