Beef trade: Seasonal higher prices nowhere to be seen

Farmers have been left counting the costs yet again. Over the years, farmers slaughtering cattle in June were able to achieve better beef prices. However, it has not been the case this year, with cattle throughput running ahead of the norm for this time of year.

Prices for steers are at 380c/kg, while base quotes for heifers stand at 390c/kg. However, at the top end of the market, some farmers are securing 385c/kg for steers and 395c/kg for heifers.

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.

Prices are very much dependent on location and demand of the individual processing plant, but under-16 month bulls are quoted at 375-380c/kg.

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U-grading bulls are making in the region of €3.80/kg, while R-grades are being quoted at 10-15c/kg lower at €3.65-3.70/kg.

O-grading bulls are hovering around the 365c/kg mark. There may be an additional 5c/kg more on the table, but this depends on a farmer’s individual negotiating power.

Weight restrictions are causing some farmers problems when it comes to marketing their ‘out of spec’ bulls and penalties are being applied in some cases.

The kill

The beef kill in Ireland has been running well above average in recent times. Despite the bank holiday Monday during the week ending June 9, some 31,772 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 dropped by 3,041 head compared to the previous week.

Steer supplies amounted to 9,305 head – a fall of 820 head on the previous week. The number of young bulls processed fell by 158 head, while the aged bull category recorded an minimal increase in throughput; some 958 aged bulls were slaughtered – a jump of three head.

Moving to the cow kill, cow throughput decreased to reach 7,584 head – a drop of 1,798 head on the previous week’s kill.

There was also a fall in the number of heifers processed. A total of 9,140 heifers were slaughtered that week – down 258 head on the week before.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending June 9):
  • Young bulls: 4,785 head (-158 head or -3%);
  • Bulls: 958 head (+3 head or +0.3%);
  • Steers: 9,305 head (-820 head or -8%);
  • Cows: 7,584 head (-1,798 head or -19%);
  • Heifers: 9,140 head (-258 head or -2%);
  • Total: 31,808 head (-3,041 head or -9%).

The number of cattle slaughtered in Ireland this year is approaching the 800,000 head mark, official figures show.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that some 799,524 cattle have been slaughtered in Ireland this year – an increase of 43,117 head on 2017 levels.

Prices in Europe

Looking at prices elsewhere in Europe, according to Bord Bia, R3 steers in France for the week ending June 9 made 371c/kg; R3 heifers in France made 394c/kg, while R3 grading young bulls made 375c/kg.

In addition, R3 cows were bought for 383c/kg and O3 cows made 326c/kg.

Moving to Germany, during the week ending June 9, R3 heifers achieved 352c/kg, R3 young bulls made 342c/kg, R3 cows made 319c/kg and O3 cows made 304c/kg.

Factories

In Italy, R3 heifer achieved 399c/kg and R3 young bulls made 377c/kg. Beef processors in Italy paid 326c/kg for R3-grade cows and 290c/kg for O3 cows.

Looking at prices in Spain for the same week, R3-grade heifers achieved 382c/kg, while young bulls made 365c/kg; R3 and O3 cows made 288c/kg and 259c/kg respectively.

Finally in Poland, R3 grading heifers were purchased for 319c/kg and young bulls made 299c/kg. R3 cows were reported to make 280c/kg, while O3-grade cows made 266c/kg in this country.

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