Prices­tale­ma­te­un­like­lyto change in short term

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FARMMARKETS - Mar­tin Ryan

Beef pro­ces­sors and beef fin­ish­ers are each hold­ing firm in their trad­ing po­si­tions t h i s we e k , w i t h p r i c e s unchanged at least for the mo­ment.

The sup­ply con­tin­ues at a rel­a­tively very strong level for early Fe­bru­ary, which places the pro­ces­sors in a favourable trad­ing po­si­tion, but mar­kets ap­pear to be pick­ing up af­ter the post- Christ­mas lull, so there is de­mand for what live­stock are avail­able at the fac­to­ries, al­low­ing beef fin­ish­ers some scope for price bar­gain­ing.

The re­sult is that base prices be­ing of­fered this week are unchanged, at 390 cents/ kg in gen­eral for steers, and 400 cents/kg for heifers. Some pro­ces­sors are try­ing to buy both cat­e­gories at as much as 5 cents/kg less, quot­ing the lower price and ad­vis­ing that they are not that anx­ious to take in ex­tra cat­tle. But this is not be­ing very ef­fec­tive on the ground.

On the other hand, beef fin­ish­ers try­ing to drive a hard bar­gain above the quoted base prices are meet­ing with stiff re­sis­tance from pro­ces­sors. The 390 cents/ kg base for steers is “cast in stone” as far as pro­ces­sors are con­cerned, but there is slightly more lat­i­tude for fin­ish­ers to get a few cents over 400 cents/ kg as a base for bet­ter qual­ity heifers. The to­tal cat­tle sup­ply last we e k t o b e e f p l a n t s wa s around 34,200 head, which is strong for the end of Jan­uary. T h e i n t a ke o f s t e e r s i s steady at around 10,000 head per week, while the sup­ply of heifers con­tin­ues slightly short of 10,000.

The strong­est per­form­ing sec­tor in terms of sup­ply cur­rently is young bulls, hav­ing in­creased to as high as 6,000 h e a d p e r we e k , w i t h o u t ad­versely af­fect­ing the price. There is a good kill of cows go­ing through the sys­tem also, at around 7,500 head per week, with prices hav­ing held up well.

O/P-grade cow prices range from 300 to 335 cents/kg, while R-grade cows are mak­ing 350355 cents/ kg, and de­mand is con­tin­u­ing strong.

It is hard to see much of a change ahead in the over­all trade, in the short term. Pro­ces­sors re­alise that they are not go­ing to be able to squeeze prices and main­tain in­takes at the same time, and fin­ish­ers re­alise that pro­ces­sors have de­mand for the cur­rent level of cat­tle sup­ply.

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