Beef trade: ‘As you were’ for base quotes

There has been a lot of talk in recent days of beef prices rising; reports indicate while this may be true for that ‘in-spec’, under 30-month steer or heifer – suitable for the Chinese market in one or two factories –  prices for all other stock remain static.

It must be noted that a 5-10c/kg addition is few and far between at the moment and is not reflected across the board, with unchanged quotes of 345-350/kg for steers and 350-355c/kg for heifers.

Farmers with the desired spec are urged to ‘shop around’ when it comes to marketing their animals in search of higher base quotes. The supply of under-30 month cattle is starting to become tight; however, it hasn’t resulted in higher prices.

This demand has also been created by the annual Christmas trade and the Chinese market, which is being tipped to have the potential to be lucrative for Irish beef farmers.

However, farmers with ‘out-of-spec’ or over 30 months-of-age cattle are still facing a backlog when it comes to offering these animals for slaughter. However, some farmers are using the demand for under-30 month stock in negotiations for getting over-age steers or heifers away.

Farmers with higher numbers of the desired stock have greater bargaining power.

In the main, cow and bull prices are unchanged.

Cow prices also remain unchanged and beef buyers are starting negotiations for cows at 250c/kg for P-grade animals. 260c/kg is on the table for O-grade animals. 290-300c/kg is being quoted for R-grade cows.

Factories’ appetites for bulls continue to vary – with prices of 345c/kg for R-grades. O-grade bulls are hovering around the 315-325c/kg mark. 350c/kg is being quoted for U-grade types.

Prices in Ireland continue to lag well behind other EU countries – and our main export market, the UK – and farm organisations have called for an immediate price increase from the processors.

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The Beef Market Tracking tool – which was launched by Bórd Bia last week – is evidence that prices are ahead across the EU.

Pat McCormack, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association’s (ICMSA’s) president, said: “The gap between the Irish and UK price of R3 and O3 steers stood at 21c/kg and 18c/kg respectively in late July, while the gap today stands at 37c/kg and 35c/kg respectively.

“It is very obvious that markets have improved, but the benefits of those visible market improvements have not been passed back to farmers to date,” he added.

‘Enough is enough’

In a message circulated to the IFA’s national committee on Sunday, November 24 – and seen by AgriLand – the outgoing IFA president Joe Healy said the letter of protest is relating to concerns that there will be “little or no beef price increase again this week”.

Healy explained to the IFA committee members that factory agents had outlined that there will be “little or no” rise in beef price. He stressed: “Enough is enough.”

“This [lack of price rise] is completely unacceptable given what the initial beef price tracker index showed last Thursday.”

Healy further noted “there is still no sign of a Beef Taskforce meeting” taking place.

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