Beef trade: Factories move to work through cattle backlog

After weeks of protests, all farmer-led protests outside the country’s meat processors have officially stood down.

Following 48 hours of deliberation between the remaining protesters and various mediators, Liffey Meats in Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan, Liffey Meats in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, and ABP Clones, Co. Monaghan, were the last remaining protests to stand down on Sunday night, September 22.

Beef processing recommenced at some sites yesterday, Monday, September 23 – with factories keen to maximise throughput and return to full processing capacity. All plants are expected to be fully operational this week.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said it will now commence implementation of the Beef Sector Agreement – which was established on September 15 – now that the protests have ceased.

From speaking with procurement managers, it seems it’s a case as you were when it comes to base quotes available in beef processing plants. Factory agents have noted that there is a large pool of cattle to process as a result of the protests.

The recent spell of heavy rainfall will also put pressure on farmers to come out with cattle.

Base quotes

Steers are currently sitting at a base of 345-350/kg, while heifers are trading 10c/kg higher at 355-360/kg.

Beef buyers are starting negotiations with farmers for P-grade cows at the 280-285c/kg mark, with O-grades at 290-300c/kg. Moreover, R-grading cows are securing 330c/kg plus depending on quality.

Factory agents are quoting in the region of 340-350c/kg for R-grade bulls and procurement managers are quoting upwards of 345-355c/kg for U-grades. O-grade bulls are hovering around the 315-330c/kg mark.

Cattle throughput

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that just 11,675 cattle – due to the closure of meat plants – were slaughtered; this is a decrease of 10,497 head on the week before.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending September 15):
  • Young bulls: 705 head (-926 head or -56%);
  • Bulls: 334 head (-53 head or -13%);
  • Steers: 5,180 head (-4,945 head or -48%);
  • Cows: 2,686 head (-1,100 head or -29%);
  • Heifers: 2,755 head (-3,463 head or -55%);
  • Total: 11,675 head (-10,497 head or -47%).

Yearly supplies are sitting at 1,224,059 head – a decrease of 23,812 head up to and including the week ending September 15.

Yearly supplies (week ending September 15):
  • Young bulls: 162,144 head (+13,448 head or +9%);
  • Bulls: 27,241 head (+4,081 head or +17%);
  • Steers: 416,719 head (-36,474 head or -8%);
  • Cows: 249,532 head (-25,897 head or -9%);
  • Heifers: 355,248 head (+17,128 head or +5%);
  • Total: 1,224,059 head (-23,812 head or -1.9%).