The beef trade has entered into the busy time frame for putting supplies together for the Christmas trade.

This traditionally has been a time when producers could hope to see the trade strengthening, but for the last few years a significant seasonal price rise has been absent from the trade, with numbers satisfying demand.

The same has been the case in the last few weeks, with an increased kill satisfying greater appetite from factories.

Supplies tightening

There are signs of supplies tightening or failing to meet strong market demand in the last few days in some areas, which is reflected in more bite in the trade.

There have been reports of factories ringing producers to gauge throughput, but, as yet, plants are holding firm in their stance to withstand any price lift.

This may be tested in the coming days if the supply-demand balance tips in farmers’ favour.

At present, steers continue to trade at a base of €3.75/kg to €3.80/kg, while heifers are trading at a base price of €3.85/kg to €3.90/kg.

Cow trade

There is more bite in the cow trade, with some factories willing to reward bigger suppliers with 5c/kg to 10c/kg extra to secure sales.

This is underpinning the differential that exists between prices paid within plants for similar quality cows, with the differential also widening slightly between plants most active in the cow trade and those with lesser interest.

P+3 grading cows are selling in the main from €3.00/kg to €3.15/kg, but there are prices reported above and below this range. O grading cows are selling on average from €3.20/kg to €3.30/kg, but there has been some prices reported as high as €3.40/kg for large lots.

Likewise, R grading cows are trading anywhere from €3.35/kg to €3.55 or €3.60/kg at the top of the market, with U grades in general from €3.55/kg to €3.70/kg for heavy top-quality types in cow-specialist plants.

British prices steadying

The AHDB reports a steadying in British prices for prime cattle after three weeks of downward pressure.

This comes on the back of supplies starting to tighten and seasonal demand also rising.

It reports prime cattle slaughterings reducing 1% to 31,700, with prices steadying at an R4L average price of £3.76/kg for steers and £3.73/kg for heifers.

Monday evening’s exchange rate of 88.2p to the euro gives an equivalent price of €4.26/kg and €4.23/kg respectively or €4.49/kg and €4.46/kg when VAT at 5.4% is added into the mix.

The trade is holding about 10p/kg above last year’s levels, despite easing a similar figure in recent weeks.

The cow trade in contrast remains under pressure, with supplies increasing 4% to 11,600 and leading to prices for O4L grading cows falling about 2p/kg to £2.60/kg (€3.10/kg incl VAT).

The Northern trade is steady, with supplies finely balanced with demand. Most plants continue to quote a U-3 base quote of £3.52/kg to £3.54/kg (€4.20/kg to €4.23/kg), with sellers with greater selling power continuing to secure 2p/kg to 4p/kg extra from the market.

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