There has been no movement in beef price this week, with the majority of processors maintaining base prices at last week’s levels.

A difficult and sluggish market for beef has been cited as the main reasons for the static beef price.

A number of processors told Agriland that the good supply of cattle since the start of the year means there is no shortage of beef on the market.

But, one procurement manager said that cattle numbers are likely to fall the week after next, as numbers are beginning to tighten on the ground.

But, farmers selling steers this week can still expect base quotes of 390-395c/kg, while buyers are offering 400-405c/kg for heifers.

At current base price levels a heifer with a 300kg carcass will make €1,200, while a 380kg steer carcass has a base value of just over €1,480.

There has also been no movement in the cull cow trade, with R grade culls making 330-340c/kg, O grade cows selling for 310-320c/kg and P grade cows are trading at 300-310c/kg.

Beef prices:
  • Steers: 390-395c/kg
  • Heifers: 400-405/kg
  • R Grade Cows: 330-340c/kg
  • O Grade Cows: 310-320c/kg
  • P grade Cows: 300-310c/kg

Cattle supplies

However, despite the relatively strong numbers of cattle slaughtered this year, there was a slight ease in the number of prime cattle killed at Department of Agriculture approved beef plants during the week ending April 17.

Recent figures from the Department of Agriculture show that the throughput of prime cattle during the week ending April 17 dropped by 1% or 332 head on the previous week.

The majority of this drop was due to a decline in the number of steers slaughtered during the week ending April 17, with kill numbers back by 891 head or 7%.

However, the weekly kill of young bulls and heifers increased by 40% (+492 head) and 1% (67 head) respectively.

But, despite the decline in prime cattle numbers, the overall number of cattle slaughtered during the week ending April 17 was similar to the week ending April 10 at 30,402 head.

There was also some movement in the cull trade, with the throughput of aged bulls falling by 45% compared to the week earlier, while cow throughput increased by 12%.

Main markets

Figures from the AHDB show that the British beef price continued to fall last week, with R4L steers back by 3p/kg to 324.1p/kg, while R4L heifers dropped by a similar amount to 324.4p/kg.

Last week’s fall means that UK R3 heifers are now cheaper than similar type heifers slaughtered in Ireland.

According to Bord Bia, the UK beef market is slow, with supply sufficient to meet the current level of demand. Demand remains best for beef from early maturing breeds such as Angus and Hereford.

Bord Bia also reports that the French beef trade remained slow last week, due to market prices coming under increased pressure, as retail promotions focused on domestically produced mince.

But, despite the slow beef trade in France and the UK, there was little change in the Italian beef market last week, with R3 young bulls making €4.15/kg.