Not a lot has changed in beef prices at the factories as the trade resumed this week.
The early weeks of the New Year are usually quiet for processors with an easing in consumer demand after the festive season, and concentration on replenishing stocks the main source of demand.
Quoted prices are in line with the pre-Christmas trade.
Most processors quote a base of 390 cents/kg for steers.
It is difficult to get a processor to show interest in any stock that is not from an accredited Quality Assured farm — and the QA bonus is not being paid on stock over 30 months.
Some processors quote for over-age animals, but at a lower base price.
From the beginning of the year, processors have also withdrawn the moratorium on heavier weights which had been negotiated under the Beef Round Table Forum — and they are now penalising for over-weight.
This is having a significant effect on the returns for heavier continentals, and stirring up conflict brewing between beef producers and processors.
Heifer prices are generally holding at a premium of 10 cents/kg over steer prices, with heifers generally quoted at a base of 400 cents/kg this week.
Some beef producers are successfully negotiating for a few cent over the official quotes for both steers and heifers, at factories where additional supplies are required.
The intake at factories last week was around 19,100 head, which was high for the week that was in it.
Factories are back to full operational days this week, but processors are not revealing any pressure to get more stock than are being offered, and keeping a tight rein on what they are prepared to pay.
Cow prices are also unchanged, at pre Christmas rates, delivering 290-315 cents/kg for O/P-grade cows, and up to 335 cents/kg for Rs, with some of the quality Rs making 5 cents/kg more.
In Britain, the prices for R4L-grade steers eased over the past two weeks in sterling terms, averaging equivalent to 522 cent/kg (including VAT).
A solid trade was reported, with demand having picked up in the run-in to Christmas, and fillets trading best.
In France, the trade is reported to be holding steady with demand best for fillets.
In Italy, the trade is reported as stable on the back of increased production and demand.
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