Beef prices at the factories are showing a marginal increase as the intake at the plants remains well below year earlier levels.
Best of the trade is for the quality heifers which have edged ahead of the steers in terms of both demand and prices actually being paid for the stock this week.
While the quoted prices for this week are reflecting a slight improvement overall, the increase for the steers is at best 5 cents/kg and a shade better for the good quality heifers, with improvement somewhat stronger at the lower end of the price range than higher up the league of prices actually being secured by producers.
Most of the factories are quoting a base of 410 cents/kg (146p/lb) for steers and the actual prices being paid are ranging 410-415 cents/kg. Some suppliers have reported slightly stronger top up for very good stock this week.
Heifers are generally quoted at a base of 10-15 cents/kg premium to the steers and prices being paid are running at 5-8 cents/kg above the quotes.
The kill last week was around 24,180 head, which was around 5,000 less than the corresponding week in 2011.
The breakdown of the kill shows that there was very little between steers, heifers and cows with each running between 6,200 and 6,600 head and the cows having the edge.
The supply of young bulls, which had reached weekly parity with the steers earlier in the year has slipped back to just over 3,000 head per week and some producers are finding it harder to dispose of young bulls, an over supply of which is not now flavour of the month with processors.
The trade in the UK is being helped by on-going tight supplies. The best trade over the past week was reported for forequarter product and round cuts. Demand for steak cuts was reasonable.
Prices have eased with R4L grade steers averaging at Stg 344.4 pence/kg — equal to 453 cents/kg (161p/lb).
On the Continent, the trade in most of the key markets showed minor improvement.
The cow trade continues strong. Base prices quoted for the O/P grade cows are ranging 350-375 cents/kg (125p-134p/lb); top price for the good R grade cows is edging closer to 400 cents/kg.
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