Beef trade: Quotes settle at 385c/kg for steers

After a number of weeks of price cuts, the beef trade appears to have settled somewhat over recent days. However, many finishers will feel the damage has already been down, as base quotes have dropped by 25-30c/kg since mid-June.

As it stands, beef buyers are offering a base of 385c/kg for steers and 390c/kg for heifers. These quotes exclude Quality Assurance and breed bonuses.

Meanwhile, the cow trade continues to remain tricky – especially for the plainer types offered. Procurement managers are starting negotiations with farmers at 280c/kg for P-grade cows, 300-310c/kg appears to be a common trend for O-grade animals and buyers are offering 320-330c/kg for R-grade cows.

Supplies

Although additional cow slaughterings have been a major talking point over recent days, a dramatic increase in supplies was not witnessed during the week ending July 22. In fact, cow throughput actually declined by 758 head or 8.3% when compared to the previous week.

However, throughput increases were witnessed in the steer, bull and heifer categories to bring the weekly kill to 36,331 head – up 703 head or 2% on the week ending June 15.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending July 22):
  • Young bulls: 3,561 head (-98 head or -2.7%);
  • Bulls: 608 head (+73 head or +13.6%);
  • Steers: 14,620 head (+1,110 head or +8.2%);
  • Cows: 8,350 head (-758 head or -8.3%);
  • Total: 35,331 head (+703 head or +2%).

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database also show that some 964,441 cattle have been slaughtered in approved export plants thus far this year. When compared to the corresponding period in 2017, that’s a climb of 3.5% or 32,329 head.

Throughput increases were witnessed in all of the major categories, with young bull and heifer throughput up by 8,419 head and 12,591 head respectively.

Year-on-year beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: 125,912 head (+8,419 head or +7.2%);
  • Bulls: 17,458 head (+1,945 head or +12.5%);
  • Steers: 331,765 head (+687 head or +0.2%);
  • Cows: 312,974 head (+6,195 head or +3.0%);
  • Heifers: 267,613 head (+12,591 head or +4.9%);
  • Total: 964,441 head (+32,329 head or +3.5%).

More action required

Commenting on the beef price cuts over recent weeks, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Joe Healy said cattle farmers would have expected a lot more action from Minister Creed and the Government in calling the factories to task on the cattle price issue.

He repeated his call on Minister Creed to call in the factories and tell them bluntly to stop cutting the cattle price.

It’s time the minister demonstrated he is on the farmers’ side.

The minister has undertaken a lot of work on market access, he said, but it’s not giving a return back to farmers.

Meat factories have taken advantage of their supplies during the severe drought conditions, he noted, and factories have cut cattle prices unnecessarily over recent weeks. These cuts are destabilising the beef market and eroding confidence in the sector, he said.

“Beef farmers feel very let down by the factories,” he added.