Beef prices stagnate as Christmas buying draws to a close

Cattle prices appear to have stagnated this week, with most buyers opting to remain at last weeks quotes.

Buying for the Christmas trade has all but drawn to a close, as most factories have filled orders for the peak trade period.

Procurement managers are now focusing on securing supplies for the next two weeks, prior to the trade winding down for the Christmas break.

Like last week, the majority of procurement managers are offering farmers 370c/kg and 380c/kg for steers and heifers respectively.

As has been the case recently, some procurement managers are offering a 5c/kg top up on quality in-spec continental cattle.

Looking at cow prices, most processors are opening negotiations with farmers at 280c/kg for P grade cows, 290c/kg for O grade cows and 310-320c/kg R grade cull cows.

Weekly beef kill breaks the 35,000 head mark

The number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved export plants broke the 35,000 head mark during the week ending December 4.

This was an increase of 509 head or 1.5% on the week before.

Young bulls accounted for the majority of this increase, with the weekly kill up by 25% or 876 head on the week before, while cow throughput jumped by 6% or 479 head.

However, despite the overall increase, the weekly steer, heifer and aged bull kill all declined, falling by 5.4% (716 head), 1.2% (122 head) and 1.2% (6 head) respectively.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +876 head (+25%)
  • Bulls: -6 head (-1.2%)
  • Steers: -716 head (-5.4%)
  • Cows: +479 head (+6%)
  • Heifers: -122 head (-1.2%)
  • Total: +509 head (+1.5%)

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the UK beef market remains relatively unchanged with some ease in demand reported.

Cattle prices from the AHDB show that British R4L steers were down marginally in Sterling terms and made 432.16c/kg during the week ending December 2.

Meanwhile, it shows that British R3 heifers made 426c/kg, while similar heifers in Northern Ireland traded from 415c/kg.

Bord Bia also reports that there has been little change in France, but there has been lower market demand for steak cuts, while offal performed best.

Retail promotions were centered mainly on domestically produced product such as ribs and steaks, it says.

Looking at prices, the R3 young bull price was up 4c/kg making 366c/kg on average, while the O3 price was unchanged at 296c/kg.

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