Beef trade: Negotiation power tilting towards farmers with in-spec stock

In the past week, there has been a little more bite in the beef trade – especially for farmers with in-spec steers and heifers. Where farmers have numbers on hand, negotiation power is falling into the hands of the supplier in some cases.

The general run of quotes for prime cattle continues to hold steady at 340c/kg. Farmers that have that in-spec heifer or bullock may be able to secure an extra 5c/kg; this depends on the number ready to market and factory-farmer relationship.

These farmers may also be able to move out-of-spec stock that little bit easier too – depending on the arrangement made. Saying this, some processors are still implementing price penalties on overweight stock.

After weeks of negativity, the announcement that some fast-food companies such as Supermac’s have begun to reopen, is welcome news for the beef industry. While these premises will mainly open for drive-thru and collection, any outlet is very much welcomed – no matter how big or small.

Earlier this year, many noted that supplies would become tighter in 2020. When Covid-19 set in, many farmers opted out of finishing cattle and turned these back out to grass.

beef limousin

However, farmers who had already built up to a higher level of meal feeding had no other option but to finish their stock. But, numbers have dropped off in recent times, and a further fall off is expected into the summer months.

In terms of cows, there is more demand evident in the last week and farmers are finding an easier route to market for these animals. Prices are generally steady, but some processors have increased quotes by 5-10c/kg.

The general run of prices for cows are 240c/kg for P-grading animals and up to 260c/kg for O-grade cows, with those falling into the R-grade category starting at 280c/kg or higher in some plants.

However, while there are some positives in terms of prime cattle and cows, bull prices and demand are still sluggish, with problems still occurring with getting numbers slaughtered.

O-grading bulls are making 300-310c/kg; R-grade quotes stand at 330-340c/kg; with U-grades slightly higher.

During the week ending April 19, some 24,486 cattle were slaughtered in Irish beef plants – a fall of 7,066 head on 2019 levels.