Beef trade: Little change in price as weekly kill bounces back

The June bank holiday has come and gone and – for the most part – factory quotes remain unchanged when it comes to steers, heifers, cows and bulls.

Prices for steers continue at 390c/kg, while base quotes for heifers stand at 400c/kg. However, there are some sellers securing 395c/kg for bullocks and 405c/kg for heifers.

There is better news on the cow front with prices holding steady. Beef buyers are starting negotiations with farmers for cows at 300-310c/kg for P-grade cows. Poorer-quality cows are achieving lower prices.

In addition, 320c/kg is on the table for O-grade animals and 330c/kg upwards is being quoted for R-grade cows, with U-grades achieving up to 350c/kg.

The bull trade is slightly more difficult. Factory agents are quoting 340-355c/kg for O-grade bulls, while R-grades are moving for 370c/kg; procurement managers are quoting 370-380c/kg for U-grades.

Cattle supplies

Some 34,446 head of cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants during the week ending May 26.

The number of young bulls bought by beef processors jumped by 416 head, while the number of aged bulls decreased by 242 head.

The steer category also recorded a drop. The number of these animals dropped by 157 head on the previous week. Cow numbers jumped by 1,243 head and the number of heifers slaughtered increased by 357 head.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending May 26):
  • Young bulls: 4,413 head (+416 head or +10.4%);
  • Bulls: 989 head (-242 head or -19.6%);
  • Steers: 10,738 head (-157 head or -1.4%);
  • Cows: 8,207 head (+1,243 head or +17.8%);
  • Heifers: 10,055 head (+357 head or +3.6%);
  • Total: 34,446 head (+1,593 head or +4.8%).

Yearly supplies

The total number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef exporting plants has surpassed 732,870 head up to the week ending May 26.

All categories with the exception of steers and cows have recorded increases, with the overall figures 40,433 ahead of the same period in 2018.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending May 26):
  • Young bulls: 105,876 head (+15,253 head or +16.8%);
  • Bulls: 15,936 head (+3,349 head or +26.6%);
  • Steers: 234,538 head (-2,798 head or -1.1%);
  • Cows: 143,752 head (-1,654 head or -1.1%);
  • Heifers: 220,244 head (+22,156 head or +11.1%);
  • Total: 732,871 head (+40,433 head or +5.8%).

Other EU markets

Looking at prices elsewhere in Europe, according to Bórd Bia, R3 steers were quoted in Great Britain for the week ending May 26 at £3.57/kg or €4.04/kg; this is a reduction of approximately £0.03/kg.

Moving to France, there was no change in the price quoted that week for young bulls in France, leaving the price at €3.76/kg, while O3 cow prices were €0.01/kg up on the previous week at €3.25/kg.

In Italy, Bórd Bia says, young bull prices fell by €0.14/kg to €3.87/kg, while the German young bull price fell to €3.51/kg.