The deadlock on beef prices has finally been broken, with a little movement in the right direction being seen in the last few days.
Factories had managed to keep a lid on prices for the last few weeks, but increased demand from the UK has meant a number of processors have had to increase quotes this week to secure supplies.
Bullocks continue to trade at €4.15/kg to €4.20/kg in the main, with those with numbers and more bargaining power able to squeeze the higher price out of the market.
Heifers are where the movement has taken place this week and a few processors have moved to €4.25/kg without a lot of arguing.
More processors are expected to follow suit during the week as demand continues to grow for in-spec retail-bound beef and supplies of same get tighter.
Talking to farmers and procurement managers, the thinking is that the big beef kills that we have seen over the last few weeks are coming to an end and that numbers will start to get tighter from next week on.
Last week’s bank holiday meant kill numbers dropped back to just under 33,000 from just under 37,000 the previous week.
Some factories choose to work extra days to compensate for the bank holiday such is the demand for beef at the moment.
Young bull prices
Young bulls haven’t changed, with €4.15/kg to €4.20/kg base price being quoted in most factories.
Under-24-month bulls are generally working off €4.15/kg for R grading bulls and €4.25/kg for U grading bulls.
Cows continue to be an easier trade compared with a few weeks ago. Factories have shifted their efforts to prime beef and this has coincided with weather turning and extra cows coming on stream, especially towards the south of the country.
P+3 cows are working off €3.40/kg to €3.50/kg, with heavier P grading cows coming into 340kg to 350kg carcase weight managing €3.55/kg.
O grading Friesian cows are coming in at €3.50/kg, while O grading suckler cows are able to squeeze €3.60/kg out of the market.
R grading cow continue to trade off €3.80/kg to €3.85/kg, while good-quality U grading cows are still capable of getting €4.00/kg and more depending on who is selling them.
Across the water, prime cattle quotes continue to improve, with R4L steers coming in at €5.23/kg incl VAT.
The British beef kill continues to track 4% lower than 2020 levels. This reduction is expected to continue to trend downwards for the rest of the year.
Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “Beef prices must move on to keep pace with the significant increases in the UK and EU cattle prices.
“The latest prime export benchmark price is €4.19/kg, which is 9c/kg above the prime Irish composite price of €4.10/kg.
“Beef prices in our key markets have strengthened consistently over the past number of weeks, up 10c/kg, against a background of static Irish prices.”
The beef trade in NI remains unchanged with a 394p/kg (€4.89/kg inc VAT) quote for U-3 grading animals.
Price deals start at 400p/kg (€4.96/kg) for prime cattle with regular finishers securing a little more of 4p to 6p/kg extra.
Demand for cows has slowed as prime cattle throughput rises. Base quotes remain on 310p/kg (€3.84/kg) for R3 grading animals.
Deals of 330p/kg (€4.09/kg) are available for good suckler types.