Beef market report: Beef price still falling despite reduced supply

The downward trend in prices at the beef factories has continued, with a further reduction of 5 cents/kg in this week’s quotes.

The third consecutive week of falling prices has wiped more than €100 per head, on average, off beef cattle sales, in the aftermath of Brexit.

While some seasonal adjustment in price, as soon as the intake of cattle increased with supplies coming off grass, was likely, it has been compounded by the drop in the value of sterling following the British referendum decision.

The base price being quoted for steers has slipped to 380 cents/kg. While some beef farmers are still getting up to 385 cents/kg this week, actual price statistics for previous weeks confirm that processors are fully implementing recent price reductions.

Base prices on offer for heifers have been reduced in line with steer price cuts, to 390 cents/kg. However, some heifers sold this week for up to 395 cents/kg.

This week, the market could be boosted by the improved weather, due to more farmers concentrating on work tasks, leaving them less time for selling cattle.

Cow prices also eased further this week, with P-grade cows ranging 275-280 cents/kg. O-graders are making 295-300 cents/kg, and up to 315 cents/kg is being paid for better quality R-grade cows.

The overall cattle intake at beef plants slipped to around 29,750 head last week.

The drop was mainly due to a reduction of around 700 head in young bulls and a slight drop in cows, while both steer and heifer supplies remained stable.

In Britain, recent upward trajectory in the trade has continued, due to demand outweighing supply. Retail demand has also improved with better weather. On average, R4L-grade steers and heifers were making around 340p/kg, equivalent to around 416 cents/kg (VAT included).

In France, the beef market remained unchanged, with retailers mostly buying domestically produced beef, and resistance to imported product at retail level.

Demand remains strongest for niches such as Angus beef.

Promotions in two of the main retailers have been focusing on French-produced products such as mince, burgers and some steaks.

In Italy, the market remains stagnant due to reduced consumption.

Looking at global markets, beef exports from Paraguay for the first half of the year are up 8% compared to 2015, while some uplift in supply is reported in Uruguay.


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