It’s been a positive week in the beef business, with quotes up across the board. Appetite has increased for finished stock in the last two weeks at a time when finished cattle supplies are running very tight.

Quotes for heifers are now at €4.20/kg to €4.25/kg, with Foyle Meats in Donegal moving to €4.30/kg base price to get supplies.

I know of two loads of continental heifers killed at a €4.45/kg base price this week and heifers were looked at, bought and killed inside 24 hours.

Bullocks have also moved up in price to a base of €4.15/kg, with €4.20/kg also available where heifers are involved.

Larger suppliers now have the ball at their foot, with factories willing to abolish weight penalties, apply leniency to the residency periods and throw in haulage to secure supplies.

Aberdeen Angus cattle are in particular demand, with factories scrambling to fill supermarket contracts. This has led to some agents biting at the heels of each other for cattle.

Bonuses are generally running from 15c to 25c/kg for in-spec AA/HE stock, with flat prices of as high as €4.60/kg paid for mixes of R and O cattle.

The cow trade has also improved, with P+3 grading cows now being quoted €3.40/kg to €3.50/kg, with more going to specialised cow suppliers.

O grading cows have kicked on to €3.50/kg to €3.60/kg, depending on location, while R grading suckler cows are being quoted as high as €3.75/kg to €3.85/kg in some factories.

Young bulls have moved to €4.15/kg base in most factories, with more going to those with bigger numbers. Older under-24-month bulls are generally moving at €4.25/kg for R grading bulls, with €4.30/kg being paid for U grading bulls.

Last week’s kill dropped to 28,804 head of cattle, a drop of 2,454 on the previous week.

The bank holiday will have affected this figure a little, but agents on the ground are still reporting finished cattle numbers to be extremely tight, with no shed cattle left and grass cattle slow to appear.

Industry sources have said that the steak market in particular has taken off in the last two weeks.

Hotter weather in the UK has led to a flurry of BBQs and outdoor dining, which has driven demand for grilling products.

The European football championships has also added some life to the market. Supermarkets that have gained huge market share in the last 12 months are said to be planning to hold on to that through meat promotions in the next few weeks.

Meat is a huge driver for customer footfall and this promotional activity is expected to drive demand further in the coming weeks.

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “Shed cattle have gone through the system and poor grass growth has delayed grass cattle, further tightening available supplies.

“Market conditions are strong as demand from the food service sector increases for the summer months and more reopenings take place,” he added.

NI comment

Beef prices are edging upwards in Northern Ireland as processors react to tighter supplies. Base quotes fall well below price deals on offer at 382p/kg (€4.68/kg inc VAT) for U-3 animals.

However, farmers indicate 396p/kg (€4.85/kg) is widely available as a starting price, with deals of 400p/kg (€4.90/kg) being offered to regular sellers. Prices for cull cows start on 320p/kg for good-quality suckler animals and rise to 350p/kg at the top end of the market.