Beef price cuts finally come to a halt

After severe price cuts over the past six-to-eight weeks, it now appears that the tidal wave of pressure being applied to beef cattle prices is subsiding.

Factory quotes, for steers and heifers, remain largely unchanged this week. Factories are offering 375-380c/kg for steers and 385-390c/kg for heifers.

Again, some farmers are securing deals up to 5c/kg more – regular customers are most likely to achieve this.

Most cow quotes also remain unchanged; most processors are offering  310-320c/kg for P-grade cows and 320-330c/kg for O-grade animals.

However, there are reports of a 10c/kg drop for R-grading cows; farmers are being offered 330-340c/kg – down from 340-350c/kg on last week. Regular farmers working with higher numbers may secure 5c/kg more, in drier areas, where there is more bargaining power.

Cattle supplies

The weekly cattle kill increased by 797 head or 2.3% during the week ending September 4. In total, figures from the Department of Agriculture show that some 35,633 cattle were slaughter during this period.

The amount of young bulls slaughtered fell by 2.8%. There was also a decrease in the number of aged bulls slaughtered – a fall of 6.2% was recorded.

Prime cattle (steers and heifers) accounted for 72% of the total kill during the week ending August 27. Both steer and heifer numbers increased by 236 and 320 head respectively.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending September 4):
  • Young bulls: 2,438 head (-72 head or -2.9%);
  • Bulls: 607 head (-40 head or -6.2%);
  • Steers: 17,136 head (+236 head or +1.4%);
  • Cows: 6,833 head (+388 head or +6%);
  • Heifers: 8,592 head (+320 head or +3.8%);
  • Total: 35,633 head (+797 head or +2.3%).

Main Markets

According to Bord Bia, the British beef trade remained steady last week. This comes a demand remained firm and supplies were relatively tight.

Looking a UK prices, the AHDB says R4L steer prices increased slightly and an average price of 424.95c/kg was achieved. In addition, R3 heifers fetched 414c/kg in Britain and 392c/kg in Northern Ireland.

In France, the end of the holiday season and the reopening of schools and businesses has lead to an increased demand. Although, the market was said to be relatively quiet this week. Ribs, particularly Angus beef and bavettes are remaining popular, while trade for offals and thick skirts is poor.

According to Bord Bia, imports of beef into France for the first six months of 2017 are down over 3% compared to the same period in 2016 – highlighting the strength of their domestic beef.