The beef trade at the factories continues to be a hard battle for farmers to move prices upwards, with only limited success.
The good news for finishers is that any movement this week is in the right direction for them, but it is slight, and is conceded only by processors who need extra stock.
The quoted base price for steers remains in general at 390 cents/kg across most of the country, but the percentage of animals being bought on a base of 395 cents/kg is increasing each week.
Getting above 395 cents/kg is proving rare and difficult, because intake levels generally remain adequate for processors’ needs.
Heifer prices remain at a base of 10 cents/kg ahead of steer prices, ranging 400-405 cents/kg. It is a bit easier to get the higher end of the price range for heifers than for steers, but anything above that is not easy to secure this week.
Processors must be relatively happy that they have got into April without having to increase the price, aided by the strength of cattle supplies since the start of the year. Each extra week at or close to current prices is a bonus for them.
While quoted prices for cows remains at 315-330 cents/kg for O/P-grades, and up to 335 cents/kg is offered for Rs, there is a bit more interest from processors for cows, which is strengthening the hand of farmers to negotiate for a top-up on the quoted prices this week.
The intake at factories last week was 28,800 head, which was around 1,000 head lower than the previous week.
The supply this week, with the return to a full working week without bank holidays, will be an important barometer of beef cattle availability.
Easing of the beef trade in Britain continues, with prices for R4L-grade steers having fallen back to the equivalent of 438 cent/kg (including VAT). This is a five-year low, but isn’t reflected in retail prices, which haven’t moved much.
Demand is reported as remaining subdued, while strong supplies are also putting some pressure on the trade.
Trade is slow for most cuts, with topsides performing best. Meanwhile, the euro continues to strengthen against the sterling, with the euro worth only 70p last November, and worth 80p this week.
In France, the beef market remains slow, with demand best for Angus beef, while cheek and tongue demand has eased. Beef promotions, mainly in Carrefour, are centred on domestically produced burgers, mince and stewing beef.
In Italy, the market has shown little change, with slow demand and wholesale prices remaining steady.
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