Beef prices continue to run within the same range as last week at the factories, where it is back to business as usual this week, with a steady flow of cattle coming through the gates.
While the jury is still out as to whether the protest stalled the downward spiral in prices, there is no evidence of any recovery of significance in the trade, from a beef finisher’s perspective.
It is never easy to get upward movement in the prices at this season of the year.
And the contentious issue of central negotiations on price being ruled out by the Competition Authority remains a major concern for finishers.
The base quote for steers is 345-350 cents/kg, and a good percentage of steers are thought to be making the higher end of that range.
However, penalties are eroding the returns for some finishers.
More of the kill is now at the point of breaching the 30-month limit and thus losing up to 22 cents/kg, when the combination of the overage price cut and the QA bonus loss is taken in aggregate.
A lower grade can also undermine the return from such animals.
Heifers are generally trading at 355 cents/kg, and in some deals, up to 360 cents/kg is being secured.
Prices for young bulls continue to trail the steer prices.
Bulls up to 24 months are generally trading at 340-345 cents/kg, with the supply continuing strong.
It remains difficult for some bull finishers to get them in to the factories.
The O-grade bulls are making 320-330 cents/kg while some of the poorer grading animals coming off the high genetic merit dairy herds are being priced back to around 300 cents/kg.
Prices for the cows have weakened a shade, with the top R-grade cows back to a shade over 300 cents/kg in general, although some finishers are reporting deals for up to 310 cents/kg being secured.
O-grade cows are making up to 285 cents/kg, while P-grade are ranging around 265-270 cents/kg this week.
The intake at the factories showed a strong recovery last week, with just over 38,000 head being supplied, an increase of 3,000 head on the last full week of operation before the farmer protest.
The intake was increased by some of the back-up in supplies arising from the two weeks of disrupted trading due to the Beef Plan protest.
Intake for the current week is also expected to be strong, with the heavy rainfall in some areas over the past two weeks beginning to affect grazing conditions on farms, and urging some finishers to lighten stocking levels, despite the continuing excellent growing conditions for grass.