Beef market report: Cow prices weaker, but market looks brighter

There is a bit more optimism around this week that the decline in the beef prices at the factories may have bottomed out for the season.

A more stable offering of quotes from processors, and a shade more interest from them this week in acquiring beef cattle, offer evidence that the autumn price low has been reached.

While this trend is welcome, it is unlikely that the peak of supply for the season has yet been reached, because good weather has taken some of the pressure off finishers to dispose of stock to the factories.

The base price being quoted for steers this week ranges from 385 to 390 cents/kg.

Securing the upper end of the price range seems a shade easier this week, but cattle making over 390 cents/kg is the exception rather than the rule, with the factory bosses playing hard ball on any upward price concessions.

The heifer base quotes are at a premium of 5-10 cents over steer prices, in the 395-400 cents/kg range.

The intake last week was just over 31,100 head, slightly increased from the previous week.

Compared to the same weeks in 2014, the intake is running at 2,500-3,000 less per week, a pattern in line with expectations, based on available cattle numbers information.

However, it is worth remembering that the weekly intake from October to mid-December last year ranged from 34,000 to 37,000 head.

Will a reduction of 2,500-2,800 per week this year put enough pressure on the processors to make it a finisher’s market?

More finished animals are now coming up to 30 months, which will put pressure on finishers to sell while they still qualify for the Quality Assured bonus.

The more orderly the supply from cattle farms over the coming weeks, the better for price prospects.

Weakness in cow prices continues, with quotes for O/P-grade cows ranging from 320 to 345 cents/kg, with up to 360 cents/kg offered for Rs.

In Britain, the average prices paid for R4L-grade steers increased last week by around 1p/kg, equivalent to 512 cents/kg (including VAT), with heifer prices slightly less.

Warm weather has also helped sales of steak cuts to hold reasonably well into the autumn.

In France, the beef trade remains difficult.

Retail demand remains focused on domestic beef, and there is very little promotion taking place to lift volume sales.


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