The supply of cattle to beef factories is increasing and prices have come under pressure this week, somewhat earlier in the season than had been expected.
The intake last week topped 30,400 head for the first time in more than two months, boosted with early supplies coming off grass, and processors responded by tightening their rein on prices quoted, with cuts of 5 cents/kg for both steers and heifers for this week.
Last week’s cut of 10 cents/kg in cow prices paved the way for the follow-up this week in prime beef prices.
Once again, the theory that cow prices are a barometer for prime beef prices has stood the test for reliability.
Quoted base prices for steers are generally at 405 cents/kg across the country this week, and with some of the pressure to get supplies lifted from the processors, getting a top-up has become a tougher challenge for beef farmers.
Heifer prices are generally being quoted at a base of 410 cents/kg.
Some farmers are managing to get a few cents/kg more, but it is not generally available.
The first of the supplies of beef cattle finished off grass arrived at the factories two weeks ago, and they are increasing faster than had been expected, aided by fine weather conditions over the past month for grass growth and cattle thrive.
There was no doubting that beef prices had peaked for the season in recent weeks.
But the backward state of grass growth coming into May led to the belief that it could be into the early days of July before a reasonable supply of cattle off grass would become available.
Cow prices are unchanged after last week’s cut of 10 cents/kg.
The O/P-grade cows are ranging from 310 to 320 cents/kg in general.
A little more continues to be paid for better quality O-grade cows in some areas of the country. The best demand and prices continues for the Rs, as usual, at up to 340 cents/kg, or a few cents/kg more is negotiable for the heavier cows.
In contrast to the Irish trend, the beef trade in Britain is showing a more robust pattern.
The average price for R4L-grade steers and heifers last week was equivalent to 437 cents/kg (at 79.5p to the euro).
In France, strong supplies of both domestic and German product remain on the market.
Limited retail promotions were seen on French produced mince, and on halal beef.
In Italy, the beef market remains slow due to reduced consumption rates.
Wholesale prices for hind and forequarters are unchanged.
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