Beef trade: Prices unchanged amidst new EU-Mercosur agreement

Beef farmers were dealt another blow on Friday last, June 28, when news broke of the highly contested EU-Mercosur trade deal which will see an extra 99,000t of beef imported from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

However, this has had no effect this week on prices and it is predicted that it could be a number of years before an impact is witnessed.

Prices for steers are at 370c/kg, while base quotes for heifers stand at 380c/kg. However, at the top end of the market, some farmers are securing 375c/kg for steers and 385c/kg for heifers.

Demand for manufacturing beef is steady and beef buyers are starting negotiations with farmers for P-grade cows at the 290-300c/kg mark, with O-grades at 310c/kg. Moreover, R-grading cows are securing up to 320-330c/kg depending on quality.

Moving to bulls, prices are very much dependent on location and demand of the individual processing plant, but under-16 month bulls are quoted at 360-365c/kg.

U-grading bulls are making in the region of €3.75/kg, while R-grades are being quoted at 10c/kg lower at €3.65/kg. O-grading bulls are hovering around the 360-365c/kg mark. There may be an additional 5c/kg more on the table, but this depends on a farmer’s individual negotiating power.

The kill

The beef kill in Ireland has been running well above 2018 levels. During the week ending June 23, some 34,606 head of cattle were slaughtered in beef processing plants.

However, looking at the kill in more detail, last week the total number of cattle slaughtered increased by just 132 head compared to the previous week.

Steer supplies amounted to 10,517 head – a fall of 428 head on the previous week. The number of young bulls processed fell by 510 head, while the aged bull category recorded a minimal decrease in throughput; some 787 aged bulls were slaughtered – a fall of 208 head.

Moving to the cow kill, cow throughput increased to reach 8,306 head – a rise of 231 head on the previous week’s kill.

There was also an increase in the number of heifers processed. A total of 10,160 heifers were slaughtered that week – up 1,031 head on the week before.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending June 23):
  • Young bulls: 4,774 head (-510 head or -9%);
  • Bulls: 787 head (-208 head or -21%);
  • Steers: 10,517 head (-428 head or -4%);
  • Cows: 8,306 head (+231 head or +2.8%);
  • Heifers: 10,160 head (+1,031 head or +11%);
  • Total: 34,606 head (+132  head or +0.4%).