Brexit takes its toll as beef factory prices fall further

The downward pressure on beef prices at the factories has continued this week as the fallout from Brexit digs deeper, with further decline in the value of sterling eroding returns on exports.

Most of the processors are offering a base of 385 cents per kilogramme for the steers, a drop of 5c/kg on last week. 

While deals at a base of 390c/kg are reported from around the country, the lower base quote is an indication of the trend which is being pushed by the processors.

The general base on offer for the heifers is 395-400c/kg and getting over 400c/kg is proving more difficult this week for producers.

While there is little change in the prices being offered for the cows, the vibe coming from the processors is that the downward pressure on price is continuing.

The base on offer for O/P grade cows is ranging 290-305c/kg and up to 320c/kg for the Rs.

The intake last week was back around 800 head on the previous week with the supply slipping to around 30,500 head. Within that, the supply of cows was up by 500 head and steers were back by 800 head.

Following the decision of the processors to reduce the base price for the prime cattle by 10c/kg, some producers pulled back on cattle which had been booked in — as mentioned last week — probably in the hope that it would put enough pressure on the factories to ease the cut, and will undoubtedly be disappointed that the price has been further eroded this week.

The situation this week appears to be that the factories are getting just about enough to meet their requirements, but many of the producers are adopting a wait-and-see approach, and there is no flood of stock to the plants.

Nevertheless, it will take a substantial drop in supply to put enough pressure on the factories to reverse the price cuts, and any sustained run of well under 30,000 head/week is not a realistic expectation at this time of the season.

Meanwhile, there is further upward movement in prices being reported from Britain, aided by a tightening in the supply over the past week, while demand at retail level is reported to be holding steady. Demand is reported to be best for steak cuts. 

The average prices for R4L grade steers and heifers is around Stg 339p/kg.

Although the British price for beef has risen in sterling terms, in euro, the British steer price is now equivalent to around 422c/kg.

In France, the market remained unchanged with difficulties getting imported product into retailers continuing to impact.

In Italy, little change has been reported in the market for last week.

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