The beef trade has started off in a positive light for the first week of 2022.

Agents have been very active over the Christmas break, with a lot of factories killing two or three days last week and back to a full week’s kill this week.

Heifers are up 5c/kg since before Christmas, with most agents now quoting €4.35/kg for heifers. There are some factories still applying pressure to hold quotes at €4.30/kg, but they are coming under pressure this week to increase quotes to get cattle.

Bullocks have also moved to €4.25/kg in most factories. Some factories have had more success in holding bullock quotes to €4.20/kg, with the higher quote being paid to those with numbers and regular suppliers.

Foyle Meats, Donegal, is still paying €4.45/kg for heifers killing out between 300kg and 400kg and €4.40/kg for bullocks killing out between 300kg and 400kg.

Bull quotes

Bull quotes have remained similar to pre-Christmas quotes, with €4.25/kg to €4.30/kg being paid for under-24-month bulls, with an extra 5c/kg to 10c/kg being paid for U grading bulls.

Bigger suppliers have better bargaining power and have been able to squeeze a little more out of the market in the last two weeks. O grading bulls are working off €4.15/kg to €4.20/kg.

Good cow demand

Cows are also in good demand. Good R grading suckler cows are now up at €3.85/kg to €3.90/kg, with 10c/kg to 15c/kg more being paid for U grading cows.

P+3 cows are working off €3.50/kg to €3.60/kg, with heavier P grading cows coming into 340kg to 350kg carcase weight managing €3.65/kg.

O grading Friesian cows are coming in at €3.65/kg, while O grading suckler cows are able to squeeze €3.75/kg to €3.80/kg out of the market.

There is good appetite for cows this week, with a strong demand for manufacturing beef underpinning the current cow trade.

Speaking to factory agents, there are some concerns that COVID-19 may affect kill days in the next few weeks, but, as of Tuesday, there are no huge issues in any factory.

Factories have procedures and protocols in place to avoid any disruption to the food chain, including ample capacity to shift boning from affected plants to other plants which aren't disrupted by COVID-19 issues.