More bite to beef trade as processors try to secure stock

The beef trade has improved slightly as more processors are willing to pay an extra 5c/kg to secure both steers and heifers.

Processors are still working off a base price of 380c/kg for steers and 390c/kg for heifers, but most are willing to pay a ‘little extra’ to secure numbers.

The move by cattle buyers follows a fall in throughput over the two week period from July 24 to August 1.

Cattle supplies showed some signs of tightening during the week ending August 7, as the weekly kill dropped below 30,000 head.

Cattle prices:
  • Steers: 380c/kg
  • Heifers: 390c/kg
  • R grade cows: 300-310c/kg
  • O grade cows: 290c/kg
  • P grade cows: 280c/kg

Recent figures from the Department of Agriculture show that just 28,221 cattle were slaughtered in approved export plants during the week ending August 7.

This is a drop of 7.7% or almost 2,400 head compared to the week earlier.

The majority of this drop was due to declines in young bull, cow and heifer throughput, which fell by 640 head, 1,421 head and 876 head respectively.

And as a result, a number of procurement managers said they are willing to pay a little extra to secure numbers of the right type of stock.

However, despite the improvement seen in terms of steer and heifer prices, the cull cow price remains largely unchanged from last week.

Procurement managers are now offering 300-310c/kg for R grade cows, 290c/kg for O grade lots and 280c/kg for the plainer type P grade animals.

Young bull prices also remain similar to last week, with under 16 month R grade bulls sitting on a base price of 380-385c/kg.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: -640 head (-21.6%)
  • Bulls: +4 head (+0.6%)
  • Steers: +351 head (+2.9%)
  • Cows: -1,421 head (-18%)
  • Heifers: -876 head (-12%)
  • Total: -2,365 head (-7.7%)

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British beef trade has improved due to tighter supplies as demand has remained steady.

During the week ending August 7, British R4L steers averaged 353p/kg (413c/kg), while the Northern Irish steers made 395c/kg.

It also reports that there has been little improvement in the French beef trade, but it is hoped that the upcoming national holiday will held to increase demand.

The Italian market continues to be underpinned by lower consumption rates, it says and as a result R3 young bull prices are sitting at 384c/kg.