Beef market report: Bridging the gap between yard and grass cattle

Beef farmer pressure on processors for price increases this week is contributing to a price range of as much as 10 cents/kg at the factories.

Hard price bargaining by finishers before they part with their stock is breaking down some of the processors’ resistance, where supplies are tight, and the processors are under pressure to get enough stock for their market requirements.

The overall cattle intake by processors last week was down by more than 2,000 head from the previous week.

However, two factors which have to be take into account are that it was the shorter working week of the May bank holiday, and the kill for the last week of April had jumped by around 1,500 head, as the processors cushioned themselves against for the inevitable drop in supply for the shorter week.

Base prices on offer for steers this week range from 400 to 410 cents/kg.

Some processors in the southern counties say they are getting sufficient cattle at the lower price level.

However, it is believed that the general run of steers is making a base price of 405 cents/kg, and some farmers say they are getting up to 410 cents/kg.

The price premium for heifers over steer prices has tightened to 10 cents/kg, with the base ranging from 410 to 415 cents/kg in general, and a few reports of up to 420 cents/kg being available where the supply was tight.

The trade has entered the most difficult period of the year for supply, between the yard cattle and the early supply off grass.

The processors have to ensure they secure sufficient stock to meet their requirements, without over-heating the trade.

Cow prices are largely unchanged this week, at 330-345 cents/kg for O/P-grade cows, and up to 360-365 cents/kg for the better quality R-grade cows.

The overall supply last week slipped back to 29,324 head, but taken together with the prior week, maintained the weekly average at just shy of 30,500 head.

In Britain, a relatively strong beef trade was reported last week, with the average price for R4L-grade steers improved as much as 2p/kg from the previous week, to the equivalent of 452 cent/kg (when VAT is included), with the euro at 84.6p.

In France, some improvement was also reported in the beef trade, linked to higher public holiday demand.

Retail promotions included both domestic and imported steaks, skirts and roasting joints.

There was no change in the trade in Italy.

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