Beef trade: No change in base quotes offered

The talks between Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the Beef Plan Movement, farm organisations and state agencies concluded following more than 12 hours of discussions on Monday last, August 12.

These talks resumed yesterday, August 19, in an effort to resolve the ongoing dispute between beef farmers and beef processors over the price farmers are paid for their cattle.

While these talks are on-going, the Beef Plan Movement has agreed to suspend its protest outside factory gates.

During the week ending August 11, the Beef Plan was successful in reducing the slaughtering capacity of beef processing facilities by nearly 50% – if we compare the kill to the previous week.

However, since the picket lines disappeared from the factory gates, processors have been busy building supplies and were working at a high capacity.

However, while factories are anxious for cattle, there is no change in prices offered for prime cattle that are fit for slaughter.

At the moment, general quotes hover around the 345-350c/kg mark for steers and 355-360c/kg for heifers.

Under-16 month bull prices are 340-350c/kg, with under-24 month bulls making 345-350c/kg for R-grades and 350-360c/kg for U-grading types; O-grade bulls are hovering around the 320-330c/kg mark and slightly higher in some beef processing plants – depending on quality. In addition, weight restrictions are still in place also.

The cow trade has increased slightly and P-grading cows are making 280-290c/kg, with O-grades hovering around the 290-300c/kg mark. In addition, R-grades are achieving 300-320c/kg upwards in the beef factories.

Cattle throughput

The latest data from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database shows that some 15,065 head of cattle were slaughtered during the week ending August 11 – a fall of 14,073 head or just over 48% when compared to the previous week.

During the week previous – the week when the Beef Plan Movement started its protest at factory gates – the beef kill dropped by 5,898 head or just under 17%.

While last Monday, August 5, was a bank holiday, much of this decrease can be attributed to the picket lines set up at factory gates by the Beef Plan Movement.

During the week ending August 11, the number of young bulls slaughtered fell by 1,780 head, while the number of aged bulls decreased by 364 head.

The number of steers presented for slaughter decreased by 5,554 head on the previous week. Cow numbers fell by 2,872 head and the number of heifers slaughtered dropped by 3,610 head.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending August 11):
  • Young bulls: 1,473 head (-1,780 head or -54%);
  • Bulls: 410 head (-364 head or -36%);
  • Steers: 6,184 head (-5,554 head or -47%);
  • Cows: 2,736 head (-2,872 head or -51%);
  • Heifers: 4,239 head (-1,482 head or -45%);
  • Total: 15,065 head (-14,073 head or +48%).

In addition, yearly supplies of steers decreased by 17,387 head and cows decreased by 11,201 head. Moving to heifers, the number of these animals presented for slaughter jumped by 26,037 head.

Yearly supplies (week ending August 11):
  • Young bulls: 152,075 head (+16,590 head or +12.2%);
  • Bulls: 24,517 head (+4,739 head or +23.9%);
  • Steers: 355,093 head (-17,387 head or -4.6%);
  • Cows: 225,041 head (-11,201 head or -4.7%);
  • Heifers: 318,047 head (+26,037 head or +8.9%);
  • Total: 1,087,792 head (+22,916 head or +2.1%).