A steady trade at unchanged prices is the general summary of the beef market at factories this week, with supply and demand reasonably balanced.
Intake rose considerably in recent weeks.
After trailing the corresponding weeks in 2019 for the year to date, the weekly 2020 in June has overtaken last year’s figures.
But the 2020 intake to mid June remains down 40,000 head compared to 2019.
The intake of young bulls is back by 36,000 head and heifers are down by 7,000, while steers are up 10,000 head.
Re-opening of some food services in recent weeks has boosted beef demand, and more restaurants are expected to open in coming weeks as easing of the Covid-19 restrictions continues.
Quoted beef cattle prices for this week remain at a base for steers varying between 355 cents/kg and 360 cents/kg.
It seems to be getting a bit more difficult this week to negotiate for the higher end of that range, the percentage of stock being purchased at the 355 cents/kg base is increasing.
The base for heifers has settled at 360 cents/kg in general, with some achieving a base of 365 cents/kg.
R-grade young bulls are generally making 350 cents/kg, with the intake hovering around half of the same 2019 week’s level, and processors penalising for overweight animals.
The buzz around the trade this week is the increase in the supply of finished cattle, and cows, crossing the border to be slaughtered in Northern Ireland, to benefit from stronger prices.
The Livestock and Meat Commission in Northern Ireland said live imports for direct slaughter in May totalled 1,655, 89.4% ahead of May 2019. Th LMC said there was a strong increase in the number of cattle imported from south of the border for direct slaughter in the first week of June, to 714 prime cattle and 325 cows up from 463 prime cattle and 130 cows in the previous week. It was the third consecutive for an increase in imports from the south for direct slaughter. Bord Bia have confirmed more animals going north for more favourable market conditions.
This has contributed to pressure on processors in the south to maintain their prices.
The slight recovery in the trade for cows over the past couple of weeks has been maintained.
Heavy R-grade cows are making 300 to 310 cents/kg this week. O-grade cows are ranging 280-285 cents/kg, and the prices for the average P-grade starts at around 270 cents/kg.