Gradual upward movement in beef prices at the factories continues this week, although the pace of increase is minimal.
Supplies of cattle remain tight, but processors are holding a tight rein on prices, and conceding nothing more than is absolutely necessary to secure sufficient beef to fill their orders.
However, a hard sell policy by farmers with finished animals is delivering the extra 1-2 cent/kg by which the prices have improved.
Base prices being quoted for steers range from 415 from 425 cent/kg (148p-152p/lb). Most prices paid for steers are from 420 to 425 cent/kg this week, with some quality lots and large supplies in regions of scarcity making a few cent/kg more.
Quoted heifer prices are staying 10 cent/kg ahead of steer prices at 425-435 cent/kg (152p-155p/lb).
Most of the heifers are ending up costing 430-435 cent/kg, some sellers are negotiating a few cent/kg more.
The intake situation remains steady at around 24,350 head last week, which is 5,300 head back on the corresponding week last year.
Prices are currently 60-65 cent/kg ahead of 2011.
National average base prices paid for the first week in July 2011 were 357 cent/kg for steers and 10 cent/kg extra for the heifers.
But thus year’s higher prices are only compensating for the higher cost of bought-in stores, and a critical price test will come later in the year, when supplies increase, and the price margin over 2011 must be maintained.
For that to happen, the late autumn base price for steers will need to have increased to at least 455 cent/kg, and 10 cent/kg more for heifers.
The cow trade remains very strong at the factories. Base prices being paid for O/P grade cows are 350 to 375 cent/kg (125p-134p/lb), and the prices being negotiated for the quality heavy cows have strengthened a little, with up to 400 cent/kg going for the tops.
The trade in the UK is reported to be somewhat subdued over the past week, with market demand described as flat. However, cattle prices are reported to have firmed, with R4L-grade steers averaging equivalent to 453 cent/kg (162p/lb) including VAT.
On the Continent, retail demand on the German market has increased by almost 1% to the end of May, despite higher consumer prices for beef.
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