CATTLE supplies for the factories are looking tighter this week, and prices have stabilised at last week’s level, following a drop of 3,000 head in the number of steers.
Some processors are already feeling the effect of tighter supply, and have been showing more interest in retaining cattle within their areas this week — even if that means paying a shade more than their quoted rates.
While processors quoted unchanged prices, mostly at 319 to 308 cents/kg (114p to 110p/lb) for R and O grade steers, farmers were adopting a tighter hold on finished cattle and putting the plants under pressure to pay better.
In the north west, 3 to 6 cents/kg (1p or 2p/lb) more is available, but producers further south have to balance that against the cost of long distance transport.
Some processors continue to offer the same for heifers as steers. Others are willing to pay up to 6 cents/kg (2p/lb) more for females. The best quote for good quality heifers in the lower half of the country comes from Slaney Meats at Bunclody, where they are offering 336 cents/kg (120p/lb) for quality heifers.
Prices offered for cattle have slipped as much as 12 cents/kg (4p/lb) in the past two weeks, but a recovery should be underway by this week-end, as pressure on factories to get cattle increases.
Last week’s kill dropped to 39,375 head, down 1,300 head from the previous week. It looks that the peak supply period for 2008 was one of the shortest for years, and has now passed.
Markets for the remainder of the year are expected to continue strong, leading to demand for finished cattle over the coming weeks, and hardening prices.
Anticipation of such a trade has been fuelling demand and prices for forward cattle at the marts, where up to €600 over is being paid for choice lots of forward continental steers, with good quality forward heifers peaking at close to the same level.
Cow prices are unchanged. Heavy O and P grade cows are quoted at up to 286 cents/kg (102p/lb), and quality lots make a shade more. There is good demand for the R grade continental cows which are worth at least 294 cents/kg (105p/lb).
Although the beef trade in Britain is reported to be continuing sluggish, cattle prices are holding steady at the equivalent of 366 cents/kg (130p/lb) for R4L steers. Demand is reported to be slow for the prime cuts in Britain, while forequarter is trading well.
On the continent, some of the market is under pressure from weaker consumer demand, but prices are holding steady.
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