Factories have tried their best over the last week to apply some pressure to beef or at least threaten to apply pressure. The threats of price cuts haven’t materialised and it’s pretty much a case of as you were for this week.

Bullocks are still working off a €4.10/kg base in most factories, with €4.15/kg on the table for select lots and those with numbers.

Heifers are generally working off €4.15/kg, with a few weaker outfits still hanging on and quoting €4.10/kg for heifers, but generally throwing in the 5c/kg when the pressure comes on.

There are some factories having to move to €4.20/kg to secure bigger numbers where the finisher has the power.

A price of €4.20/kg has also been paid on loads of mixed bullocks and heifers to secure the load.

Premiums for traditional-bred cattle are still being paid at the rate of up to 20c/kg, with these select lines still doing very well in the retail trade.

Under-16-month bulls are still on €4.10/kg to €4.15/kg, with good demand reported for suitable well-finished bulls.

Over-20-month R grading bulls are working off €4.05/kg to €4.10/kg, with U grading bulls coming in at €4.15/kg.

Cows are holding well, with €3.80/kg to €3.90/kg still being paid for good U grading suckler cows.

R grading cows are being quoted from €3.75/kg to €3.85/kg, with O grading cows working off €3.65/kg to €3.75/kg.

P grading cows might have eased back a little this week and are being quoted €3.40/kg to €3.50/kg.

Cows are still a super trade in the mart and farmers with small numbers of cows to sell could still be better in the mart ring as opposed to the factory lairage.

The news that the UK government is planning to open indoor dining in cafes, pubs and restaurants on 17 May will come as a welcome boost to the Irish trade.

Twenty-nine percent of Irish beef exports to the UK are destined for food service channels, so Irish factories will likely see another lift in demand as the trade gets back to normal.

Indoor gatherings will also be allowed after 17 May, which will likely drive barbecue meat sales ahead of the UK bank holiday on 31 May.

The British beef price continues to perform very well, with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) reporting a further price rise in the week ending 1 May.

R4L steers were being paid out at 418p/kg (€5.13/kg incl VAT). The British beef price is currently running €1/kg ahead of this time last year.

Last week’s kill came in at 28,299 excluding veal, which was a drop of 115 head of cattle on the previous week.

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “Finished cattle remain in very tight supply and farmers should shop around for quotes and bargain when selling cattle.”

NI comment

Beef prices are holding firm in Northern Ireland, despite processors trying to talk the trade down. Some plants have cut base quotes to 368p/kg (€4.51/kg inc VAT) for U-3 animals, while others remain on 378p/kg (€4.63/kg). But prices continue to run well ahead of these levels.

Deals of 394p to 396p/kg (€4.83 to €4.85/kg) are still on offer, with up to 400p/kg (€4.90/kg) on offer at the top of the market for regular finishers. Cows are also a steady trade, with quotes holding at 290p/kg (€3.55/kg) for R3 animals, but prices of 310p to 320p/kg (€3.80 to €3.92/kg) are being paid.