While some factories have managed to pull beef quotes back by another 5c/kg this week, there are tentative signs that some stability is entering the trade.
A few processors that have started to source cattle for next week are working off the same quotes as this week, which is a small positive.
Bullocks are being quoted at €5.00/kg to €5.10/kg in most factories, with the higher quotes available further north.
Heifers are working off €5.05/kg to €5.15/kg, with the higher quotes going to those with numbers and regular sellers.
Flat prices of between €5.50/kg and €5.60/kg are available for in-spec quality assured Aberdeen Angus heifers.
Relatively small numbers of cattle are being sold flat, with factories preferring to go the grid route.
Young bull quotes are back a shade, with U grading bulls now back at €5.20/kg to €5.25/kg. R grading under-24-month bulls are being quoted at €5.10/kg to €5.15/kg, with O grading bulls back at €5.05/kg to €5.10/kg.
P grading under-24-month bulls are working off €5.00/kg this week.
Factories are trying to hold firm on weights, with a 400kg weight limit in some factories.
Compared with the same week in 2022, young bulls are returning over €200/head less, with input costs changing very little over that time.
The cow trade has taken a knock, with factories reporting more numbers of cows available to choose from over the last few days.
U grading cows are trading anywhere from €4.70/kg to €4.80/kg, with plants most active for top-quality cows continuing to show a keen appetite for the right stock.
R grading cows are trading from €4.50/kg to €4.70/kg, depending on the factory.
Some processors are trying to quote lower than this, but are doing very little business at the lower money.
O grading cows are at €4.40/kg to €4.50/kg, with P grading cows coming in at €4.10/kg to €4.20/kg, depending on weight and flesh cover.
Last week’s kill held steady at 32,018 head. The bull kill continues to rise, with 3,450 young bulls slaughtered last week.
This is the eighth week in a row that the bull kill has increased, with peak numbers of under-16-month bulls coming out now.
The bullock kill remained steady at 11,779 head, with heifers coming in slightly lower than last week at 8,651 head.
Agents are reporting shed cattle supplies all dried up, with grass cattle still a little off coming fit.
Rabobank has just released its market outlook for the global beef trade for 2023.
It highlights the softening in consumer sentiment and subsequent weaker beef pricing in late 2022 has flowed through into early 2023.
It also highlights the continuing pressure on consumer confidence and the impact that this will have on beef purchases.
The eyes of the world remain on China to see how consumer activity will pick up after a slow start out of COVID lockdowns.
The report anticipates that Chinese demand for beef will pick up in the second half of 2023, boosting global prices.
Factory agents are trying to tighten their grip on the beef trade in Northern Ireland this week, with quotes dropping back 2p to 4p/kg and most plants on 468p/kg (€5.74p/kg inc VAT).
Deals on steers and heifers have eased by 2p/kg, but remain around the 496p/kg (€6.07/kg) mark for regular finishers with in-spec animals.
Young bulls are under pressure and prices are hovering around 482p/kg (€5.91/kg).
Cows remain on a quote of 390p/kg (€4.78/kg), with deals of 410p/kg (€5.02/kg) available.