Christmas demand from UK supermarkets drives trade for beef

Beef market report
Christmas demand from UK supermarkets drives trade for beef

An in-calf Aberdeen Angus (118 months old) which weighed 625kg and sold for €1,120, in a clearance sale at Macroom Mart last Saturday.

Demand for beef in the UK continues to underpin the trade for cattle at the factories, where getting as many as possible processed ahead of Christmas seems to be a priority.

Demand from the supermarket trade, which requires hanging of the carcase for 21-28 days, is maintaining pressure on procurement officers at the meat plants, with some processors now working extended hours in order to handle big intakes.

Finishers are responding to the increased demand, but trying to bargain for a meaningful price increase is meeting with a very controlled response from factory bosses.

Prices have edged upwards by a few cents/kg, with each of the recent weeks seeing a marginal further increase, the combination of which, to date, has increased returns by 5-8 cents/kg from earlier in the autumn.

The weekly kill, which has topped 39,000 head, is relatively strong, but processors are interested in taking in all available cattle.

The base price for steers remains at 360-365 cents/kg, with an increased percentage of the intake now selling for 365c.

There are some reports of 370 cents/kg being paid for steers, which appear to be creditable, but there is no evidence that it is readily available for all comers.

Heifers are trading at a 5 cents/kg premium over steer prices, generally at a base of 370 cents/kg, although some plants continue to quote at the lower rate of 365 cents/kg base, trying their hand at keeping the lid on rising prices.

There are reports that 375 cents/kg is there, for a good number of heifers this week, and it is no secret that flat price deals are being offered to finishers this week, wherever the grid price is not securing the supply of stock, particularly for in-spec heifers.

Hereford and Angus are at the top of the list for procurement, with the added breed bonus capable of returning up to 400 cents/kg for some lots.

Young bulls continue to be the weakest link in the trade, with demand remaining low and prices hovering at 5 cents/kg less than for steers of the same grade.

The cow trade has made the strongest recovery, with R-grade now making 310-315 cents/kg, while prices for Os range up to 300 cents/kg, and 285-290 cents/kg is achievable for the best of the P-grade cows this week.

The movement of cattle to Northern Ireland continued at relatively high levels in recent weeks, with 1,357 head travelling north in the week ending November 14, bringing to 95% the increase in live exports of cattle to Northern Ireland so far this year.

But overall live exports have declined by 13%.

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