The tightening in the supply of cattle to factories, and slight hardening in prices for them, are continuing this week.
The intake of cattle slipped by around 1,000 head last week, falling to just under 29,300 head, a level of supply rarely seen yet this year, with the exception of the shorter working weeks.
It was inevitable that intake would tighten, given the strength of supply year-to-date, which remained ahead of the corresponding period last year by an average of around 1,000 head per week.
The intake so far in 2016 at the factories passed the 500,000 mark last week.
While there is little overall change in the prices quoted at the factories this week, the tighter supply has strengthened the position of cattle farmers to negotiate prices with processors.
The base price quoted for steers in general is 395 cents/kg.
However, more of the stock are making closer to 400 cents/kg now, with processors meeting more resistance to the base price among farmers.
The base for heifers is generally quoted at 400 cents/kg, with some offering 405 cents/kg, which is also more typical of the actual price being paid this week.
As the availability of finished stock tightens (and stock will be late coming off grass this year, with grass growth more than a month behind compared to 2016), cattle farmers should be in a good position to exercise more control over the trade in the coming weeks.
Cow prices are showing very little change.
The base for O/P-grade cows is 315-330 cents/kg, and Rs are making up to 350 cents/kg.
In Britain, the decline in beef cattle prices continues.
The average price for R4L-grade steers has slipped to Stg 324.1p/kg, while heifers of the same grade came back by a similar amount, to 324.4p/kg.
In euro terms, and including VAT, the British steer price is now equivalent to 430 cents/kg, with the euro valued at 78.9p sterling.
UK market demand is reported as slow, with supply sufficient to meet current demand levels.
Demand remains best for product from native breeds such as Aberdeen Angus and Hereford.
In France, the beef trade remained slow over the past week, with market prices under pressure.
Meat promotions at retail are currently being focused for the most part on pork products.
However, limited promotions remain on domestically produced product such as minced beef.
In Italy, there has been very little change in the trade over the past week.
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