Wet weekend intensifies the pressure on beef prices

The heavy rain over the weekend has intensified the pressure on beef prices and the East/West price divide appears to be rising its head again.

Farmers west of the Shannon have been worst affected by the inclement weather over the past week and as a result many are opting to slaughter cattle straight off the land.

And as a result, procurement managers west of the Shannon have moved to lower the steer and heifer base price by 5c/kg, with most now quoting 365c/kg for steers and 375c/kg for heifers.

However, as we move closer to the east, prices remain pretty much unchanged from last week with most procurement managers operating off a base price off 370c/kg for steers and 380c/kg for heifers.

But, one buyer suggested that prices in the east will also come under pressure and farmers are likely to be quoted 365c/kg for steers from the beginning of next week.

Another cattle buyer added that cow throughput is beginning to increase on a week-to-week basis, but despite this rise prices have remained largely unchanged from last week.

Farmers selling R grade cows can expect to be quoted between 300-310c/kg for factory fit lots, while the plainer O and P grade cows are currently trading at 290c/kg and 280c/kg respectively.

Beef cattle supplies continue to climb

The number of cattle slaughtered in approved beef export plants continues to rise on a weekly basis, recent figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

Official figures show that just over 34,550 cattle were slaughtered during the week ending September 18, up 1,449 head or 1.6% compared to the week before.

Young bulls, steers and cows make up the majority of this increase, with throughput up 105 head (+5.5%), 303 head (+1.9%) and 282 head (+3.6%) respectively.

Despite the overall increase in weekly kill, figures from the Department also show that there was a slight decline in aged bull and heifer throughput.

During the week ending September 18, just over 527 aged bulls were slaughtered in approved beef export plants, a fall of 80 head or 13% compared to the week before, while the weekly heifer kill also fell by 0.6% or 48 head.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: +105 head (+5.5%)
  • Bull: -80 head (-13%)
  • Steer: +303 head (+1.9%)
  • Cow: +282 head (+3.6%)
  • Heifer: -48 head (-0.6%)
  • Total: +1,449 head (+1.6%)

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British cattle trade continues to meet a robust trade on the back of ongoing tight supplies.

It also says that the cooler weather has led to better demand for rump cuts, while all other cuts are holding relatively steady.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB show that the British R4L steer price stood at 367.9p/kg (428.4c/kg) for the week ending September 17.

It also shows that R3 steer prices in Northern Ireland made the equivalent of around 401c/kg, while R3 heifers north of the border traded at 402c/kg.

Bord Bia also reports that the French market continues to reflect the trends evident in the market in recent weeks, as it remains difficult to get imported products onto retail shelves.

Retailer promotions were taking place in some retailers, it says, focusing on domestically produced mince, roasts and ribs.