The officially quoted base prices for beef at the factories are unchanged for this week, but like the turn around in the weather, there is also a bit more optimism among finishers for an improvement.
The processors were showing some concerns at the start of the week that the drier weather could lead to a tightening in supply, as the ground conditions on farms improve and the attention of farmers turns to salvaging the harvest.
The quoted prices for the week were a base of 380-390 cents/kg (135p-139p/lb) for the steers and 390-395 cents/kg (139p-141p/lb) for heifers.
The factories are definitely under more pressure to pay over the quoted prices for to get the numbers of stock moving this week and precisely measuring what it takes to keep intake up.
Generally 385 cents/kg at least is being paid for steers and the IFA is reporting members finding 390 cents/kg more of a general base and most of the factories paying up to 10 cents/kg (4p/lb) over quoted prices for both steers and heifers.
Producers are also reporting more variation between the factories this week on how much over the quoted prices they are prepared to pay to get stock and reporting that some shopping around is paying dividends.
The intake last week was just under 28,700 head while continuing the gradual upward trend, but the fear is that a change in the weather this week could reverse the pattern and restore confidence among farmers to hold out against the lower prices which had become the norm in recent weeks.
Several of the factories have added an extra days to operations in recent weeks.
All of the indicators are showing that cattle supplies should remain tight for the balance of the season. The processors have been reasonably satisfied with the lower intake year to date, rather than having to pay more to increase supply.
A steady pattern of sale by producers for the rest of 2012 is certainly the most advisable to hold prices, which any rush of stock could undermine.
The trade in the UK last week was similar to previous weeks, with tight supplies continuing to match the current demand levels.
Prices are holding stable, with R4L grade steers currently averaging Stg351.9 pence/kg which is equivalent to 468 cent/kg (167p/lb).
On the Continent, trade across most of the key markets was mixed over the past week with the best of the trade evident for cows. Demand is reported have started to shift from hindquarter to forequarter cuts in the lead up to Autumn.
On the home front demand has eased further with base prices on offer for O/P grade back to 300 cents/kg at some of the plants and ranging to 325 cents/kg. Up to 345 cents/kg is being paid for the heavier quality cows.
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