The strength of the beef cattle supply and continuing slide in prices dominate beef trade trends this week.
Many experienced cattle farmers are baffled by how the intake at the factories has remained so much stronger than had been expected. The strength of the year-to-date supply kept pressure on the price, but its continuation during the past two months, normally a period of low intake at the factories, has taken them by surprise.
The base line price quotes for steers, heifers, and young bulls were reduced further this week, turning summer beef finishing into a replica of the loss-making experience of spring beef finishers.
Most processors dropped the base price for steers by a further 5c/kg, quoting 360c/kg on Monday, and the heifer price suffered the same level of cut, with the base price generally down to 370c/kg.
Scope for trying to negotiate better prices has been wiped out, with many finishers even finding it difficult to get stock in to the factories these weeks, such is the high level of supply.
The inflow of cattle last week topped 35,270 head, exceptionally high for the early days of July.
The steer kill increased to around 11,500 head.
The intake is being driven to an extent by finishers moving out stock as early as possible in an effort to get ahead of the weekly price cuts, which in turn enables processors to continue the downward price trend.
Young bulls remain very difficult to get rid of, even at the totally uneconomic prices being offered at the factories, where further price reductions are the order this week.
Most processors have dropped the young bull price to 10c/kg under the steer price this week, with a base of 350c/kg on offer for those who can succeed in getting them in the gate at the factories. The intake of young bulls last week was around 4,700 head, a relatively strong supply.
Price-wise, the strongest sector of the beef trade, insofar as it is weathering price pressure the best, is the cow trade.
Prices for cows remain relatively stable this week, at up to 305-310c/kg for the better quality R-grade cows.
The O-graded are hovering around 290-295c/kg, and the Ps follow at 270-280c/kg.