Pressure remains on beef prices as supply rises

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Beef prices have continued to come under pressure at the factories this week as the gradual increase in supplies of cattle continues.

Although quoted prices for the week are similar to last week’s, processors are effectively reducing prices by sticking more than previously to the quoted price range.

Base prices being quoted for steers range from 380 to 390c/kg (136p-139p/lb). While farmers are negotiating some top-up on that in the lower end of the price range, most factory agents are under direction not to exceed 390c/kg this week, with the upward trend in supply taking some pressure off processors.

Quoted base prices for heifers are running at a premium of 10c/kg over steer prices, within the 390c to 400c/kg range — but some deals for heifers are being struck at up to 405c/kg.

There has been strong farmer reaction to the price declines of recent weeks, with the IFA reporting a lot of anger at the widening gap between Irish and UK/NI prices for cattle in recent weeks.

Cattle prices at Irish factories are currently slightly higher in the corresponding weeks in 2011 — however, store cattle in 2012 have cost up to €300 per head more than in 2011.

It is also a much more difficult year for farmers to finish cattle because of the bad weather and the higher price for concentrate feeds to supplement this year’s poor quality grass.

Intake at the factories last week increased to just over 27,400 head, compared to over 30,000 head for the same week in 2011.

The trade for cows is also suffering the effect of the downturn in prices.

Base prices being quoted for O/P grade cows have slipped to 310c-340c/kg (110p-121p/lb), and the quality R-grade cows are being quoted at up to 355c/kg.

Some increases on the quoted prices are being negotiated by farmers.

There has been no change in the beef trade in the UK over the past week, with tight supplies continuing to match current demand levels.

There was a drop in consumption of beef for July in Britain, with consumer purchases down by 5%. Prices have increased slightly, with R4L grade steers averaging equivalent to a VAT inclusive 467c/kg (167p/lb), substantially higher than the current Irish price.

On the continent, meanwhile, trade across most of the key markets has firmed, reflecting tightening supply.

Source: Irish Examiner


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