Quotes unchanged as beef processors finalise Christmas orders

Despite the weekly beef kill dropping by 1,208 head for the week ending December 10, it seems the stalemate between beef processors and farmers is continuing this week.

The demand for beef remains relatively strong; buyers are continuing to hunt for in-spec cattle, as they finalise orders ahead of Christmas.

However, the beef kill is expected to drop this week, as plants factor in next week’s bank holiday into their processing plans.

Last week, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Livestock Committee chairman, Angus Woods said factories are very anxious for cattle.

The difficult weather has disrupted some cattle deliveries and left some outlets short.

In-spec, R+ 3= heifers made a top price of 429.72c/kg last week, while the average price paid (for R+ 3= heifers) across the country stood at 418.33c/kg.

In addition, a top price for of 412.43c/kg was achieved for R+ 3= steers; the average price paid for these animals stood at 412.43c/kg.

Due to this, farmers have been urged to dig in their heels and bargain hard when it comes to marketing their stock.

What are the factories offering this week?

This week, for the most part, factory base quotes have remained unchanged from last week. Most processors are currently offering 385-395c/kg for steers and 395-405c/kg for heifers.

However, farmers – especially those with large numbers of in-spec stock to sell – are finding that 5-10c/kg on top is the base quotes is achievable.

Cow prices remain relatively stable this week and most buyers are offering 310-320c/kg for P-grade and 325-340c/kg for O-grade animals. R-grade cows are making 340-355c/kg.

Cattle supplies

During the week ending December 10, some 39,321 cattle were processed in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants – a drop of 1,208 head on the previous week’s figures.

Steer and heifer throughput continued to lead the way; collectively these accounted for almost 60% of all of the beef cattle slaughtered in Ireland during the first full week of December.

Additionally, young bull slaughterings peaked at 6,545 head. However, aged bull, heifer, steer and cow slaughterings fell by 1.1%, 3.9%, 6% and 7.9% respectively.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending December 10):
  • Young bull: 6,545 head (+861 head or +15.1%);
  • Aged bull: 522 head (-6 head or -1.1%);
  • Steers: 12,769 head (-817 head or -6%);
  • Cows: 8,413 head (-730 head or -7.9%);
  • Heifers: 11,072 head (-460 head or -3.9%);
  • Total: 39,321 head (-1,208 head or +2.9%).

Main markets

On the market demand for beef, Woods said that it’s very strong and this is reflected in high cattle prices in the UK and across the main European markets.

UK cattle prices are the equivalent to 453c/kg. Cattle prices in our main European export markets are up 30-40c/kg on last year’s levels.

Looking at young bull prices across Europe, he said, French, German and Italian young bulls are making 420c/kg, 435c/kg and 446c/kg respectively.