There is very little change evident in the trade for finished cattle at beef factories this week.
With strong supply levels continuing, there is no pressure on processors to pay extra for stock, and a weaker export trade also offers them the platform upon which to resist farmer demands for better prices.
Base prices on offer for steers remain at 375-380 cents/kg, with agents apparently under instructions to lean more towards the lower end of the price scale this week, if possible, without leaving the cattle behind them in the sheds.
Nevertheless, there are some reports of exceptional lots topping 380 cents/kg base by a few cents/kg, which is not generally available.
The trade for heifers, however, appear to have strengthened a little this week, with the base price edging towards a premium of 15 cents/kg over the steer price, and a higher percentage making 390 cents/kg, or even a few cents/kg more in cases.
There is little change in cow prices, which retained the gains of recent weeks.
The base for O/P-grade cows is running at 300-320 cents/kg, and the better quality R-graders are making up to 340-345 cents/kg this week.
The intake at beef plants increased last week by more than 1,000 head, to reach the highest weekly supply for the year to date, exceeding 33,100.
In the UK, strong supplies of prime cattle are continuing to exceed the seasonally low demand levels, and prices have decreased, with R4L-grade steers slipping in sterling terms, to average 363.9c/kg, equivalent to 450 cent/kg (when VAT is included), with the euro at 85.7p sterling.
In France, the beef market remained unchanged, with slow demand reported.
Trade was steady for offal products with poor demand for entrecotes and steaks.
At retail level, demand for imported product remained sluggish, and any ongoing retail promotions have been for domestically produced ribs.
Some improvement has been noted in the Italian beef market, with increased trading for forequarters.
Looking at global markets, beef exports from Paraguay in 2016 were estimated to have increased over 11% compared to 2015, with Russia and Chile the main export markets.
In Argentina, beef exports increased by almost 18% year-on-year, with China, Chile and Germany the principal outlets.
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