Recovery is on the cards for factory beef prices

A slight glimmer of optimism on beef prices at factories this week has encouraged farmers to hope that the worst may be over for the season, and although gradual and slow — recovery is on the cards.

While officially quoted prices show very little change from previous weeks, farmers report a slight easing in resistance by processors to paying a top-up on the quoted base price. With that base at 360 cents/kg, a top-up of up to 5 cents/kg more for steers is being negotiated on a wider scale this week.

Heifer prices have edged slightly ahead of the steers, with quoted base prices quoted ranging from 360 to 365 cents/kg, with the upper end of that range becoming more freely available.

Meanwhile, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association says its ‘red card’ beef protest gained further momentum over the past week, with the number of farmers signing up to withdraw from the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme in protest over beef prices exceeding 2,000. ICSA members say processors have piled on their own additional conditions to qualify for the 12 cents/kg bonus on Quality Assurance animals.

At factory level, the cattle intake held up well last week at just under 33,700 head delivered, with steers accounting for over 17,200.

The general consensus among the industry is that the peak supply may have been reached, some weeks earlier than usual this year, and intake is likely to tighten over the coming weeks, which could benefit farmers.

However it is considered that a drop in supply in the order of 5,000 per week will be required to bring enough pressure on processors to concede any significant improvement in prices.

The cow trade at the factories has continued to harden in slow increments. The base for O/P-grade cows is 300-320 cents/kg this week, and the quality R-grade cows are making up to 340 cents/kg.

In Britain, cattle prices have continued to harden. R4L-grade steers average equivalent to 482 cent/kg (including VAT).

The British beef trade is reported to have held quite steady last week. Similarly very little change was reported in beef markets on the continent, with demand and prices holding steady.


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