The combination of tight supply of cattle for the factories, and hardening of prices, is almost as rare in the second half of August as frost.
Part of the explanation could be improved weather over the past couple of weeks bringing excellent farming conditions, and harvesting of grass and other crops leaving less time for delivering cattle to factories.
While there is no indication of supply drying up, the tighter supply in recent weeks has forced processors to work a little harder to keep the intake flowing, and to pay a little extra to get stock through the gates.
Most processors continue to quote a base of 380 cents/kg for steers, but more of the stock are making 385 cents/kg this week, and there are some reports of cattle farmers securing up to 390 cents/kg before parting with their finished animals.
Heifers are generally selling at a premium of 10 cents/kg over steer prices, with a quoted base of 390 cents/kg, but a general buying price of 395-400 cents/kg.
Similar to the prime beef sector of the market, there has been a little upward movement in prices offered for cows.
P-grade cows are being quoted for at a base of 280-290 cents/kg, with Os at up to 300 cents/kg, and up to 320 cents/kg on offer for better quality Rs this week.
The intake last week was 30,500 head, recovering from the reduction of the previous bank holiday week.
Excluding the effect of the holiday week, the average in recent weeks has been around 30,000 head, a level which precludes processors from significantly cutting prices.
There was further improvement in the beef market in Britain over the past week, underpinned by tighter supplies and demand remaining steady.
Reported prices for R4L-grade steers averaged equivalent to 433 cent/kg (including VAT).
In France, little change in the market was reported for the past week. Retail promotions were focused on domestically produced mince and roasting joints.
In Italy, little change was reported with the market still impacted by lower consumption rates.
In Germany, the market for heifers and cows remained stable, with demand highest for bulls.sufficient.
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