A steady trade for beef at the factories this week has brought an end to the five-week downward slide in prices which gutted returns to beef farmers over the past month.
They will now hope that the downturn has at least bottomed out, although they have learned not to depend on beef price expectations at this season of the year.
Already, most of them who purchased stores since early this year cannot afford to sell finished steers and heifers at current prices.
There is general agreement among the processors on quoting a base price of 395 cent/kg for steers this week, unchanged from last week.
Some finishers trying their hand at hard selling are negotiating deals for a few cents more by playing hard ball, refusing to sell for less than 400 cents/kg.
However the extra money is not easy to get unless a particular factory is under pressure locally to get the livestock.
Nevertheless, it is worth trying for.
Heifers continue at a premium of 10 cents/kg over the steer price, with a base of 405 cents/kg the general run.
The pattern of trading is similar to the steers — with some farmers securing a few cents extra.
Although the improved weather helps farmers to hold on to stock for further weight gains, the outflow to the factories continues to increase, in line with the usual seasonal pattern.
The supply last week showed a continuation of the upward movement, edging closer to 31,500 head, and all of the indicators are that the supply is unlikely to dip below that for several weeks to come.
The indications are that supply for the remainder of the year should on average be 2,500-3,000 head per week behind last year’s supply, but that should still ensure that intake remains comfortably ahead of 31,000 per week for most of the remaining weeks of 2015.
Cow prices came under further pressure this week, with O/P-grade cows being quoted at 345-360 cents/kg, and Rs worth up to 375 cents/kg, but it is difficult to get much over those prices for any lots.
In Britain, prices for R4L-grade steers were averaging equivalent to 509 cent/kg (including VAT) last week; the gap between Irish and UK beef cattle prices continues to widen. The trade was reported to be slow, on the back of some easing in demand.
However it is hoped that the return to work after the holiday season will boost demand, particularly for forequarter cuts.
In France, a slower trade was reported, with ongoing difficulties for exporters due to the suspension of direct trade into retailers.
In Italy, there has been little change reported in the trade.
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