Slightly firmer prices, and the largest weekly supply of cattle for the year to date, are seen as positives for beef farmers this week.
A gradual — although very slight — improvement in the prices for beef cattle is the trend of the trade at the factories.
But there is still a long way to go towards a realistic return being delivered to farmers, compared to what similar type and weight of cattle are making a short distance away, in the UK.
Quoted base prices for steers remain unchanged at 360-365 cents/kg.
While most of the supply is being purchased within this range, it seems that slightly more of the intake is making the higher end of the prices.
There are also indications of some concessions in the penalties for over-age animals.
Heifers are generally making 5 cents/kg more than steers around the country.
The total cattle intake last week increased to just a shade under 35,000 head, which was around 1,000 more than the corresponding week last year.
Despite the increase and the strength of supply pattern, there is still strong demand for stock at the factories, which suggests that markets remain very strong for beef.
This has been underlined by the further improvement in the prices in the UK, which have moved nearly €1/kg ahead of the Irish prices, a totally unacceptable situation which Irish processors need to explain.
The change in the weather last weekend is likely to ensure that supply will remain strong this week, but farmer speculation is now centred on expectations for November and the pre-Christmas trade.
There should be some further improvement, but it is prudent to believe that it will be all down to the scale of cattle supply at that time.
Cow prices are unchanged. The O/P base price range is 300-320 cents/kg, and up to 340 cents/kg is being paid for R-grade cows.
In the UK, the R4L-grade steers are now averaging equivalent to 481 cent/kg (including VAT).
It has also been reported that the UK beef trade remained steady last week, with some increase in demand for forequarter cuts and striploins.
In France, the trade remained steady, with little change reported.
In contrast, beef trading in Italy is reported to be somewhat slower, with a decrease in prices.
In France, the R3 young bull price has dropped by 2c to €3.65/kg, and the O3 cow price is down 3c to €3.27/kg.
In Italy, the R3 young bull price is down 9c to €3.72/kg, and the O3 cow price up 2c to €2.70/kg.
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