Beef trade: Prices unchanged but finishers’ confidence severely damaged

For the most part, beef factory quotes remain unchanged when it comes to steers and heifers. Prices for steers continue at 360c/kg, while base quotes for heifers stand at 370c/kg.

However, there are some sellers securing 365c/kg for bullocks and 375c/kg for heifers; but these farmers are few and far between.

Beef buyers are starting negotiations with farmers for cows at 290c/kg for P-grade cows. In addition, 300c/kg is on the table for O-grade animals and 310c/kg upwards is being quoted for R-grade cows.

The bull trade is still difficult. This week, under-16 month bull prices are 350-355c/kg, with under-24 month bulls making 350-355c/kg for R-grades and 360-365c/kg for U-grading types.

Cattle supplies

Some 35,274 head of cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants during the week ending July 7.

The number of young bulls bought by beef processors fell by 125 head, while the number of aged bulls decreased by 213 head.

The number of steers presented for sale increased by 245 head on the previous week. Cow numbers jumped by 427 head and the number of heifers slaughtered fell by 275 head.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending July 7):
  • Young bulls: 4,764 head (-125 head or -2.5%);
  • Bulls: 706 head (-213 head or -23.1%);
  • Steers: 11,641 head (+245 head or +2.1%);
  • Cows: 8,267 head (+427 head or +5.4%);
  • Heifers: 9,849 head (-275 head or -2.7%);
  • Total: 35,274 head (+56 head or +0.15%).

‘Confidence on the floor’

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) livestock chairman Angus Woods said farmer confidence is on the floor and the factories have to immediately stop the price cuts, which are exploiting a very difficult market situation.

He said beef farmers are very angry with what they see as the factories’ refusal to support beef farmers at this difficult time.

“This is not only undermining the confidence of beef and suckler farmers at a critical time for the future of the sector, it is also undermining prices and the value of our beef in the marketplace.

“This drive to the bottom on price is inflicting severe financial hardship on farmers and sending the wrong signal to the marketplace, undermining the value of our product and our production standards,” Woods added.

“This week, the base price for steers is 360c/kg and 370c/kg for heifers. Some factories are attempting to quote lower prices, but are having to pay more than the quotes.”

Farmers with quality prime cattle are strongly resisting the price cuts and insisting that they get more than the loss-making quoted price, Woods concluded.

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