No change in beef price as the trade winds down for Christmas

The beef factory trade is beginning to wind down for Christmas and beef processors have opted to maintain all quotes at last week’s levels.

As has been the case in recent weeks, factory buyers are quoting 370c/kg for steers, but an additional 5c/kg is being offered for quality in-spec stock.

Heifers have also remained at last week’s base price of 380c/kg, as many processors have reported close on full yards in advance of the Christmas break.

Moving on to cow quotes, most factories have opted to keep quotes at last week’s level of 300-310c/kg for R grade cows, while buyers are starting negotiations with farmers for P and O grade at 280c/kg and 290c/kg respectively.

Cattle supplies

Cattle supplies have shown little signs of easing with the weekly kill continuing to remain above the 35,000 head mark.

During the week ending December 11, some 35,247 cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants, following on from the 35,453 head slaughtered the week earlier.

This brings the total supplied during the first two weeks of December to over 70,700 head – just over 10,000 more than factories generally require each fortnight.

However, official figures show that cattle supplies eased, but only slightly, during the week ending December 11 when compared to the throughput from the week before, with the weekly kill falling by 206 head or 0.6%.

Looking at the beef kill in more detail, the weekly young bull kill increased by 8.9% or 385 head on the week before.

But aged bull, steer, cow and heifer throughput all posted falls on the week before with supplies back by 0.6% (3 head), 1.9% (241 head), 2.2% (186 head) and 2.1% (199 head) respectively.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +385 head or +8.9%
  • Aged bulls: -3 head or -0.6%
  • Steers: -241 head or -1.9%
  • Cows: -186 head or -2.2%
  • Heifers: -199 head or -2.1%
  • Total: -206 head or -0.6%

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the UK market remained relatively stable and finely balanced last week, with supplies adequate to meet current demand levels.

Cattle prices from the AHDB show that British R4L steers were down in Sterling terms, with the price sitting at the equivalent of 437.65c/kg, while the British and Northern Irish R3 heifer price stood at 427c/kg and 418c/kg during the week ending December 9.

Bord Bia also says that the French trade remains difficult, particularly for imported product, but demand is expected to increase as Christmas approaches.

French retail promotions were centered mainly on domestically produced product such as ribs, mince and offals, it says.