40,000 per week sup­ply dom­i­nates beef mar­ket

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FARMMARKETS - Martin Ryan

There’s no bright side to the cur­rent beef mar­ket for fin­ish­ers.

With the sup­ply of stock to the plants con­tin­u­ing around 40,000 head per week, and some weak­en­ing of ex­port mar­kets in re­cent weeks, pro­ces­sors are now hold­ing some stocks of beef in their cold stores, fur­ther dent­ing fin­ish­ers’ hopes for a price lift. Per­haps the only con­so­la­tion is that a 40,000 head per week sup­ply sit­u­a­tion not many years ago would have re­sulted in a very much worse mar­ket sit­u­a­tion than we have to­day. Pro­ces­sors have fairly suc­cess­fully mar­keted a much in­creased sup­ply, which would have been much more dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, for the sec­tor, not many years ago.

But this his­tor­i­cal con­text of­fers very lit­tle con­so­la­tion for fin­ish­ers now see­ing re­turns for their an­i­mals which are not sus­tain­able, leav­ing most fin­ish­ers hav­ing to rely on al­ter­na­tive sources of in­come to sub­sidise their beef pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. Beef prices over­all re­main un­der pres­sure at the fac­to­ries this week, with prices for young bulls re­duced by at least 5 cents/kg, cow prices also un­der pres­sure, and base prices for prime beef at best un­changed from last week. The base price for steers is 375 cents/kg. It is very dif­fi­cult for fin­ish­ers to ne­go­ti­ate any­thing above that with pro­ces­sors this week. In­stead, they are be­ing put on wait­ing lists for de­liv­ery of their an­i­mals at sev­eral plants, and prices are be­ing pe­nalised for an­i­mals which are over-age, or over-weight. The sit­u­a­tion is broadly sim­i­lar for the heifer mar­ket, with a base price of 380-385 cents/kg.

Most pro­ces­sors of­fer the base price of 385 cents/kg, but with re­ports of some want­ing to work off 380 cents/kg. P-grade cows have slipped back to around 240 cents/kg, with Os at 260-270 cents/kg, and fin­ish­ers are find­ing it a bit harder this week to hold on to 300 cents/kg for R-grade cows.

The to­tal na­tional beef in­take last week slipped just un­der 40,000 head, for the first time in a month. Re­ports from around the coun­try in­di­cate that the sup­ply has con­tin­ued very strong again this week. Last week, the steer sup­ply was around 1,000 head higher than 12 months ago, with the other cat­e­gories on a par with the same week in 2017.

By the week-end, all of the stock re­quired for pre-christ­mas or­ders will have been slaugh­tered.

The mar­ket de­mand will slacken over the Christ­mas pe­riod, and usu­ally re­mains quiet for most of Jan­uary, due to the fall-off in con­sumer spend­ing on beef af­ter the hol­i­days.

At the re­cent Kan­turk Co-op aart an­nual fat stock show and sale, Ed­mond O’con­nor, Kil­brin, owner of the best beef bul­lock, with Paul aullaney, Charleville Foods, spon­sors of the prize for the class; John Cott, Chair­man, Kan­turk aart; and show judges Shane Healy, aichael Reidy and aau­rice Co­gan.

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