The beef trade continues to edge upwards, with factories scrambling for finished cattle supplies.
Procurement managers continuing to cold-call suppliers looking for finished cattle is a sure sign that finished cattle are in very tight supply.
Bullocks are generally moving at €4.80/kg to €4.85/kg, with heifers being quoted at €4.90/kg to €4.95/kg, depending on numbers and quality.
Flat deals of as high as €5.25/kg are being paid for Aberdeen Angus heifers.
Aberdeen Angus and Hereford heifers are in big demand, with a number of wholesalers very active in marts this week for heifers coming close to slaughter.
Cow quotes have also taken a jump this week, with €4.70/kg now on the table for U grading cows.
R grading cows are working off €4.50/kg to €4.60/kg, with O grading cows coming in at €4.30/kg to €4.40/kg. Well-covered P grading cows are hitting €4.00/kg to €4.10/kg.
There is still good demand for bulls, with €5.10/kg to €5.20/kg being paid for U grading bulls in some plants.
R grading bulls are trading for €4.90/kg to €5.00/kg. Under-16-month bulls are working off €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg base price on the grid.
Quotes this week don’t really reflect what is being paid, with agents given a lot of leeway, especially on larger loads of cattle.
One agent told me his instructions from his factory this week were to buy them as cheap as he can, but don’t lose them.
There’s probably 5c to 10c/kg in every agent at the moment and the advice is to sell hard in the next two weeks when the ball is at the farmer’s foot.
Deals are also being completed on weights and transport, with some leeway also being given on in-spec bonus criteria.
Closing the gap
The Bord Bia price tracker is still showing an almost 40c gap between the Irish price and that of our main markets. This gap has closed in the last week, but has a lot more closing to do to come close to EU and UK prices.
The prime cattle kill continues to fall, with 1,000 head/week currently coming off the prime kill. It’s a different story with cows, with last week’s kill breaking records with the highest ever weekly kill of cows in over 20 years.