Weekly beef supply  tops 35,000 head for the first time in recent years

Any price movement at beef factories is in the right direction, but too little and too slow for farmers to get carried away.

In face, all processors continued to quote this week for steers and heifers at prices unchanged from recent weeks.

The base quote for steers remained at 360-365 cents/kg. But the percentage getting higher end prices is slightly increased, and some are negotiated a reduced penalty for over-age animals.

At 365-370 cents/kg, feifer prices stay ahead of steer prices. Generally the trade for heifers is stronger than for males, with the supply of heifers running at around 35-40% of steer numbers. A few of the better quality heifers are reported to be making a base price as high as 375 cents/kg, negotiated by the harder-selling farmers.

The overall supply of stock to the factories continues to undermine pressure from farmers for a price increase.

Just when it seemed the peak weekly supply for the year had been passed, last week’s kill produced another surge, topping 35,000 head for the first time in recent years.

Year to date, the kill is almost 130,000 head higher than 2013, with the extra supply coming at a low cost to the processors. Their supply of prime cattle year to date is up by 15%, but the average prices is 12% lower for heifers and 11% less for steers.

Given the high year to date output, there should be an easing in numbers for the remainder of the season, but it is unlikely that any worthwhile increase in price will be achieved until weekly intake drops to around 28,000 head, which is unlikely to happen immediately.

Meanwhile, the cow trade is unchanged at factories, where the base for O/P-graders is at 300-320 cents/kg, and up to 340 cents/kg on offer for the better quality Rs.

There was further improvement in the beef trade in Britain last week, with R4L-grade steers averaging equivalent to 481 cent/kg (after currency and VAT adjustment).

The demand is reported to be holding steady, with some increase for forequarter cuts and striploins.

In France, the trade remains steady, with little change reported, and some promotions for chucks, topsides and striploins.


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