Beef trade: Factories managing to keep a cap on base quotes

While there has been some upward direction in base quotes for steers and heifers since the turn of the year, beef processors are managing to keep a lid on prices paid for finished cattle, although they are being met with stern opposition from farmers.

This week, steers are continuing at 355-360c/kg, but farmers are digging in their heels when it comes to the lower price of 355c/kg, with the vast majority of plants paying 360c/kg for factory-fit steers.

In the case of heifers, 360-365c/kg is on the table, but prices on the higher side are harder achieved. However, in a bid to cap base quotes – to entice more farmers to market their animals – some procurement managers are cutting deals on transport fees if needed.

Some 5,399 bulls were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef exporting plants during the week ending January 12, 2020. And, this week, variation between plants is again clearly evident.

Prices obtainable include 345-350c/kg for R grades in the main. O-grades are hovering around the 320-330c/kg mark and U-grades are being bought for approximately 350-355c/kg.

Like the bull trade, beef plant quotes for cows continue in a varied fashion, with 270-275c/kg on offer for P-grade cows, 280-290c/kg for O-grade animals and 300-305c/kg for R-grade lots. The location of the meat plant and its demand for cows will depend on the prices offered.

Moving to cattle supplies, some 34,599 cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants during the week ending January 12; this is a fall of 1,211 head on the same week in 2019.

This total figure (34,599) is made up of: 5,339 young bulls (as mentioned above); 590 aged bulls; 11,121 steers; 6,342 cows; and 11,086 heifers.

Total supplies for the year to date (January 12) amount to 63,140 head, consisting of: 9,551 young bulls; 1,007 aged bulls; 21,307 steers; 10,554 cows; and 20,633 heifers.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending January 12):
  • Young bulls: 5,399 head (+1,247 head or +30%);
  • Bulls: 590 head (+173 head or +41%);
  • Steers: 11,121 head (+935 head or +9%);
  • Cows: 6,342 head (+2,130 head or +50%);
  • Heifers: 11,086 head (+1,539 head or +16%);
  • Total: 34,599 head (+6,058 head or +21%).