Beef finishers dig in deep on factory price cuts

Factory buyers have tried to bring the steer base price back to 400c/kg in recent weeks. However, the move has received a blunt response from finishers.

Farmers, and finishers alike, are digging in deep on price and are not willing to sell steers for below the 405c/kg mark.

When they do not get the desired response from factory staff, they are instead opting to market their cattle through the marts.

This has led to an increase in the number of cattle being sold at the ringside in recent days – a venue where factory buyers are forced to compete with each other to secure numbers.

A similar trend is also being witnessed in the heifer market and farmers are not willing to accept a base price of 410c/kg or below for their heifers.

This week’s prices

Despite many farmers opting to market their cattle elsewhere, factories have decided to keep base quotes at last week’s levels.

Most buyers are now offering 400-405c/kg for steers and 410-415c/kg for heifers.

Cow prices also remain largely unchanged from last week. Farmers selling R-grade cows are being offered 340c/kg. Furthermore, 320c/kg and 310c/kg is available for O and P-grade cows respectively.

In addition, young bull prices are also relatively stable. Factories are starting negotiations with farmers at 410c/kg for U-grade bulls and 400c/kg for R-grade animals.

Click here for a detailed breakdown of prices

Cattle supplies

Official figures show that fewer cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants during the week ending July 2.

In total, some 33,682 cattle were slaughtered in Ireland during the final week of June / first week of July. This is a fall of 279 head or 0.8% on the previous week.

Figures taken from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that young bull, aged bull and cow supplies all declined during the week ending July 2.

However, there was a slight increase in the number of steers and heifers processed. Official figures show that steer throughput increased by 116 head or 0.9%, while heifer slaughterings jumped by 459 head or 5.3% on week earlier levels.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending July 2):
  • Young bulls: 3,776 head (-787 head or -17.2%);
  • Aged bulls: 631 head (-26 head or -4%);
  • Steers: 12,571 head (+116 head or +0.9%);
  • Cows: 7,559 head (-84 head or -1.1%);
  • Heifers: 9,078 head (+459 head or +5.3%);
  • Total: 33,682 head (-279 head or -0.8%).

Main markets

The British beef trade continued to remain firm last week, according to Bord Bia, as relatively good demand and tight supplies helped the trade.

Prices from the AHDB show that British R4L steers made an average price of 379p/kg (432.17c/kg) during the week ending July 1.

Moving on to France, Bord Bia says, the market remained unchanged last week as weather and seasonality continued to affect the trade.

Beef promotions were ongoing at retail level, it says, and most were seen on domestically-produced beef such as steaks, mince, burgers, tongue and chuck.