There’s a marked difference in the beef trade this week, with all categories of beef cattle up in price compared with last week’s quotes.
Procurement managers are anxious for supplies, with lots of phone calls taking place late last week and on Monday to line up supplies for this week.
The general run of quotes is €3.95/kg for bullocks and €4/kg for heifers.
Bigger feeders and regular suppliers have moved to €4.10 on Monday.
Angus cattle also seem to be in short supply, with lots of agents on the lookout for suitable stock.
P grading cows are being quoted at €3.15/kg to €3.20/kg in some factories, with more going if there are numbers of well-fleshed cows involved.
O grading cows are on €3.25/kg to €3.35/kg for good O grades.
R grades are being quoted between €3.50/kg and €3.65/kg for good-quality well-fleshed suckler-bred cows.
The cow trade in marts has also taken a lift, with €2/kg to €2.20/kg being paid for well-fleshed suckler cows.
A number of Northern Ireland (NI) wholesalers are still driving the trade for good-quality cows competing with southern factory agents for factory-fit cows.
Poorer-quality dairy cows have also improved, with €1.60/kg regularly offered for dairy cows requiring further feeding in the south.
Prices across the water in Britain increased again this week, with the average R4L steer price now sitting at the equivalent of €5/kg incl VAT.
With record retail sales and lower supplies of finished cattle, British processors have been struggling to fill retail orders.
The reopening of the food service trade will likely take some pressure off the retail supply chain, as more demand moves over to food service.
Increasing Irish demand
With Irish beef imports forming a large part of the UK food service supply, this will have a knock-on effect of increasing demand for Irish imports.
The NI beef trade is also strong, with tighter supplies and growing demand boosting the trade.
Factory quotes north of the border have risen to €4.71/kg for U grading animals last week.
The announcement by the UK government that the UK hospitality industry will open next week has meant factories will need to ramp up activity in the coming weeks to meet demand.
Some factories who have been working on three- or four-day weeks up to now have moved to a five-day kill for next week.