BEEF prices are continuing very firm this week, against a background of increasing supplies raising concerns that further increase in the supply could de-stabilise the current price base.
Peak prices were fully maintained by the processors for the first half of the week, but a mid week review was being planned by some of the factories and the expectations were that the objective was to measure supply against requirement, with a revision of the price likely.
The R grade steers are making 355-364 cent/kg (127-130p/lb) with some of the southern factories not as anxious to pay at the higher levels this week, claiming that supplies are not as tight. Prices for O grade steers range 342-358 cents/kg (122-128p/lb).
For the heifers, generally add 6 cents/kg (2p/lb) to the prices across the country.
The increase in the supply of cattle has continued with a further rise of around 1,600 head to 29,700 head for last week’s kill. The steers increased by 500 head to 10,500 head, while there was a rise of 1,600 head in the number of heifers supplied at 8,800.
This adds up to an increase of nearly 3,500 head per week over the past three weeks. The first of the grass finished cattle have started arriving at the factories, probably up to 10 days earlier than had been expected and the word on the ground this week has been that cattle numbers are coming off the grass in larger quantities as finishers move out stock as soon as they are ready to benefit from the high price.
Balanced marketing of finished stock will be crucial over the next few weeks if producers are to collectively play their part in holding on to the strong prices. The factories are very anxious to get prices back from the current level and the present price range will not be sustained if there is any substantial increase in supplies.
The trade in Britain has been unchanged over the past week, while cattle prices have strengthened further and are returning the equivalent of 358 cents/kg (128p/lb) for R4L steers (incl Vat).
Continental markets are coming under more pressure, with quieter demand leading to an easing in prices in some of the destinations.
Manufacturing beef is continuing to sell very well, hence cow prices are holding at an all time high. The factories are very anxious for cows and willing to pay up to 310 cents/kg (110p/lb) for O/P grade cows, while the heavy continental R grade cows are making 316 cents/kg (113p/lb) plus. Cow numbers available to the factories remains tight.
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