Cattle prices inch ahead in strong beef market

There has been further slight hardening in beef prices at factories this week, with improved quotes for both steers and heifers across the country.

For the steers, 400 cents/kg has become the norm as a base, with some farmers negotiating up to 405 cents/kg, and occasionally a shade more, before agreeing to part with their stock.

Heifers are generally quoted at a premium of 5-10 cent/kg more than steers, giving a base of 410 cents/kg in general, and up to 415 cents/kg is being achieved.

On the supply side, although the trade is only a couple of weeks into 2015, the intake at the factories is again running ahead of this time last year.

Processors are anxious to get cattle for the strong beef export markets, and the slight improvement in prices is helping to bring out stock.

The kill last week topped 31,350 head, nearly 1,000 head more than the corresponding week last year.

The beef forum is expected to meet before the end of the month.

The agenda will include payment for non-spec animals from Quality Assured farms, which the processors have introduced at 3/head.

Farmers have described this as “derisory” and an “insult“, but the factory bosses maintain that the agreement was for a “cash neutral” situation, and they say a higher payment would have to be funded from a reduction in the price elsewhere.

There is very little change in the prices on offer for cows at the factories.

The base price being quoted for O/P-grade cows is 310-340 cents/kg.

Up to 365 cents/kg is being offered for the R-grade cows.

The beef trade in Britain is reported unchanged, with R4L-grade steers averaging equivalent to 498 cent/kg (including VAT).

Trade was described as firm over the past week with little stock left unsold after the busy Christmas period.

In France, little change in the trade has been reported.

In Italy, significant trading is yet to recommence after the Christmas break.

High-end cuts that performed well before Christmas such as fillets have been slow in the past week.

However it is hoped that trading will increase in the coming weeks.


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