Why are cattle supplies not falling as fast as forecast?

There was a further ease in the cattle trade this week, according to Bord Bia.

It says the fall in price comes on the back of some reduced demand while a relatively steady supply of cattle coming off grass was also reported.

Furthermore, Bord Bia also says trade was mixed across our key export markets this week.

This week, it says the majority of steers were being purchased at a base price of between €4.00/kg and €4.05/kg on the Quality Payment System while heifers were being purchased on average at a base of between €4.10/kg and €4.15/kg.

These prices exclude bonuses payable on in-spec QA animals. Prices paid for O grade cull cows are continuing to make between €3.60/kg and €3.70/kg.

Beef Kill

The latest cattle supplies at export meat plants for the week ending August 22 stood at almost 29,700 head which is down 9% on supplies for the same week last year.

However, cumulative supplies for the year to date are down just 4% on supplies for the corresponding period last year standing at over 1m head.

Within the beef industry there is considerable surprise at how stable the beef kill remained over the summer months.

Bord Bia
Bord Bia

Bord Bia has said that an increase of almost 50,000 head in live cattle exports in 2013 combined with a drop of more than 100,000 head in calf registrations point to a significant tightening in finished cattle supplies in 2015.

In its outlook for the beef sector in 2015 it said these developments would leave export availability standing at around 480,000t, a drop of more than 8%.

Industry sources suggest that the forecast tightening of Irish cattle supplies has been mitigated to date by farmers killing cattle younger than previous years.

Many in the industry also comment that recent months have seen cattle killing out extremely well on the back of ideal grass growing conditions over the summer.

UK/Irish beef price gap 85c/kg

In Britain, Bord Bia says reported cattle prices from the AHDB for GB R4L grade steers were averaging at 356p/kg (equivalent to 485.30 c/kg) for the week ended August 22.

It says the trade remains slow on the back of some ease in demand. However it is hoped that the return to work after the holiday season will boost demand particularly for forequarter cuts, Bord Bia says.

In France, Bord Bia says a slow trade was reported with on going difficulties for exporters due to the suspension of direct trade into retailers. In Italy little change was reported in the trade.

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