The beef trade has cranked up a notch this week on the back of very tight prime cattle supplies and increased demand from factories for Christmas retail orders.
Procurement managers have been very active towards the end of last week and on Monday, looking for suitable in-spec cattle to fill demand.
This has added some much-needed competition into the market, with some agents moving outside of their general customer bases looking for cattle.
Agents are reporting very few “farmers' cattle” available with most of the larger finisher’s cattle locked into specific processors.
Foyle Meats, Donegal, has jumped its base quote for heifers to €4.85/kg this week for those killing out between 300kg and 400kg. Bullocks have moved up to €4.80/kg base price for those killing between out 300kg and 400kg.
Regular customers and those with numbers have a stronger hand when selling and have been able to squeeze 5c to 10c/kg above quoted prices.
Farmers are being advised to sell hard in the coming two to three weeks, when Christmas demand will top out.
It was this week in November 2022 that beef price started to rise and R3 bullocks hit €5.40/kg by mid-December. Many in the industry think that the current trade has a similar feel to 2022, with demand exceeding supply for the next few weeks.
The bull trade remains pretty stable, with €4.90/kg being paid for U grading under-24-month bulls this week in most factories and a little more if you bargain hard.
R grading bulls are being quoted at €4.80/kg to €4.85/kg, with a little more going to regular suppliers and those with numbers.
O and P grading bulls are trading at 5c/kg to 10c/kg less than this.
Under-16-month bulls are generally working off a base price of €4.70/kg to €4.75/kg.
Good, well-fleshed cows remain a solid trade, with factories eager to buy heavy cows this week.
Light P1 parlour cows remain under pressure, with many factories shying away from the poorer cows, with some quoting under €2/kg for parlour cows.
Well-fleshed P+3 cows continue to trade at €3.80/kg to €4.00/kg, depending on weight and quality.
O grading cows are working off €4.10/kg to €4.20/kg, while good R grading cows are coming in at €4.30/kg to €4.40/kg.
U grading cows are being quoted at €4.40/kg to €4.50/kg.