Beef trade: Upward trajectory continues

In the past week, the recent positivity in terms of price has continued – especially for farmers with in-spec steers and heifers. Where farmers have numbers on hand, negotiation power is falling into the hands of the supplier in some cases.

The general run of quotes for prime cattle is 365c/kg for heifers and 360c/kg for factory-fit steers. Farmers that have that in-spec heifer or bullock may be able to secure an extra 5c/kg; this depends on the number ready to market and factory-farmer relationship.

This price positivity is coupled with the reopening of global fast food giant McDonald’s, as on Wednesday, May 20, the first six of its restaurant ‘drive-thrus’ were open for business.

This follows the opening in the UK of 15 restaurants for “McDelivery” on Wednesday, May 13. McDonald’s aims to open all ‘drive-thrus’ in Ireland and the UK in early June.

As a substantial buyer of Irish beef, this is welcome news for the beef industry and any outlet is very much needed – no matter how big or small.

In terms of cows, there is more demand evident in the last week and farmers are finding an easier route to market for these animals. Prices are improving, and some processors have increased quotes.

The general run of prices for cows are 280c/kg for P-grading animals and up to 300c/kg for O-grade cows, with those falling into the R-grade category starting at 300-320c/kg in some plants.

Bull prices have also increased, with O-grading bulls making 340c/kg; R-grade quotes stand at 350c/kg, with U-grades now at 360c/kg.

Looking at last week’s kill, steers and heifers stood at 10,525 head and 7,342 head respectively.

Cow slaughterings accounted for 5,755 head (up 934 head on the previous week), while young bull and aged bull throughput stood at 2,561 head and 654 head respectively.

The total number of cattle slaughtered in Ireland moved up to 26,837 head – an increase of 1,303 head. While this increase is notable, it is a far cry from the 32,783 head of cattle that were slaughtered during the same week of 2019.