Beef factories continue to work off lower base quotes

Early quotes for this week suggest that beef buyers are continuing to operate off lower base quotes.

Last week, a number of the main processors dropped the quoted steer and heifer price to 360c/kg and 370c/kg respectively – a fall of 5c/kg on the week before.

And, following on from last week’s drop, procurement managers are continuing to operate off the lower base quotes again this week.

A number of processors are planning to offer 360c/kg and 370c/kg for steers and heifers bought tomorrow morning, while farmers supplying in-spec cattle can expected to be offered an additional 5c/kg for suitable lots.

Like price cattle prices, beef buyers have also indicated that cow prices will remain unchanged from last week, with prices ranging from 270-315c/kg.

Procurement managers are offering 270c/kg for P grade cows, 280c/kg for O grades and 310-315c/kg for the better quality R grade lots.

Cattle supplies

The number of cattle slaughtered in beef export plants has passed the 36,000 head mark for the second time this month.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that the total kill for the week ending October 23 stood at 36,199 head, an 1.4% increase on the previous week’s total.

This follows on from the week ending October 9, when the weekly beef kill passed the 36,000 head mark for the first time this year.

This week’s rise was driven by increases in the numbers of young bulls, up 19.9% (437 head), and cows, up 5.6% (443 head), while all other categories of cattle supplies for slaughter fell.

Aged bulls, steers and heifers all posted falls in throughput during the week ending October 23, with supplies down by 41 head (7.7%), 199 head (1.1%) and 102 head (1.3%) respectively.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +437 head or +19.9%
  • Aged bulls: -41 head or -7.7%
  • Steers: -199 head or -1.1%
  • Cows: +443 head or +5.6%
  • Heifers: -102 head or -1.3%
  • Total: +516 head or +1.45%

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the UK beef trade is stagnant with demand staying firm and prices relatively unchanged.

Demand for most cuts was steady last week, it says, but retail prices were showing some decline compared to the same period last year.

Prices from the AHDB (the organisation for British beef and lamb) for the week ending October 23 show that British R4L steers made the equivalent of 411.3c/kg, while Northern Irish steers made in the region of 401c/kg.

Bord Bia also reports that the French beef trade remains poor for imported product as domestically produced beef continues to dominate the market.

Demand for most cuts of beef was steady, it says, with offal showing the highest demand, but it is hoped that consumption will improve over the bank holiday weekend.

Retail promotions were centered on mainly domestically produced beef such as steaks, ribs, burgers and mince with some offal promotions taking place on imported product.

Meanwhile, Bord Bia also reports that the Italian beef market remains steady with little change reported in wholesale prices, while some decreases in retail prices were reported.